At this point in the Amityville "series", we appear to have exhausted every possible storyline involving the original house at 112 Ocean Avenue, and so we've now moved on to random surrounding buildings in Amityville, which makes the whole town seem like a somehow undiscovered hotbed of sinister paranormal activity that makes you wonder why people even still live there. Today's haunted building is The Amityville Playhouse, also known as The Amityville Theater and Amityville Legacy.
After Fawn Harriman's parents die in a fire, she inherits an abandoned and run-down theatre in Amityville. Along with her boyfriend Kyle and three of her friends, she decides to visit the theatre and spend the weekend there to investigate it before she decides what to do with it. Being in Amityville, the playhouse is, of course, haunted and the group is soon experiencing strange events and visions, as well as finding themselves mysteriously trapped in the theatre. While all this is going on, Fawn's high school Geography teacher is doing research into the theatre's history for her, despite running into opposition at every turn from the Amityville locals, and he soon discovers a dark secret about the town. But will he be in time to save Fawn and her friends?
The Amityville Playhouse features a day-for-night shot at one point in the film. Day-for-night in 2015. I don't know whether to be impressed or not. It is, however, quite indicative of the level of special effects in this film. Most of the ghostly/demonic effects are done via sound effects only - growls, screams and the usual - nay, inevitable for any Amityville film - buzzing of flies. Later on, a couple of characters get possessed or replaced by evil doppelgangers (it's never really made clear one way or the other), and then their faces get some admittedly pretty impressive make-up effects (although annoyingly, one of them gets an inverted cross branded on her forehead), but that's about it as far as the special effects go.
The film clearly had a higher budget (apparently £350,000) than some of the other films we've seen recently as well, because it has such luxuries as both interior and exterior shots, and scenes shot in both the USA and UK. This location shooting isn't necessarily a good thing, however, because the UK scenes feel like nothing more than padding that's not even needed, as the film clocks in at 99 minutes and the UK scenes can't be any more than 10 minutes long in total. They're supposed to be flashbacks for the Geography teacher before he came to the US, but don't add anything to the film's plot whatsoever. Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of it is the argument at one point about whether a palaeontologist and a vicar can ever be friends as if science and religion are like oil and water, or it's like in Ghostbusters and you're not allowed to cross the streams.
The Amityville Playhouse returns once again to the idea of Amityville being built on a Native American site - this time around though it's a cave system that's home to demons that require a sacrifice of six people every year, and that the entire town is in on this now (there's no explanation of what the town gets out of this, whether it's some sort of success or prosperity or just not having the demons run rampant through the town). Apparently, there's also a firstborn sacrifice clause that they have to abide by as well, which gets brought up almost as an aside so that the film's final twist can work at the very end of the film. But other than that there's not really any explanation as to why things are happening in this particular theatre, or just how the townspeople knew that exactly five people would be coming to the town that weekend, considering how important the number of sacrificial victims is to the town's resident demons.
The film's cast are... okay. None of them are noticeably bad actors, although none of them are particularly good either. Fawn's boyfriend Kyle is annoying, and sadly he's not the first to go, so we have to put up with his loud and obnoxious attitude and gay jokes for the majority of the film. The rest of them feel pretty interchangeable and you don't particularly care about what happens to them. Mainly they just feel like they might be reading their lines off a cheat board just off-camera. In the end, The Amityville Playhouse is just... bland. The cinematic equivalent of white bread.
Amazon US (Region 2 only)