It's finally here. With this review, I've come to the end of what's become the Amityville Horror series review death march. Even then, I've not covered every Amityville movie out there - as well as having to skip Amityville: Vanishing Point because I couldn't get hold of a copy, there's also apparently Amityville Exorcism, from the same people who did Amityville Death House, and Amityville: Evil Never Dies, which is a direct sequel to The Amityville Legacy. And apparently, there's also Amityville Cop, Amityville Creation, Amityville High, Return to Amityville (personally I don't think we ever left), Amityville: The Beginning and Amityville Bulldozer in various stages of development. But for the sake of what's left of my sanity, we're sticking with just the ones on the Wikipedia list.
So yet another family, the Walkers, moves into 112 Ocean Avenue - mother Joan, teenage daughter Belle, twee child Juliet and James, Belle's twin brother who's been in a persistent vegetative state for two years after an accident. Things are already tense in the family due to the fact that Joan blames Belle for James' condition, but then soon after they move in James seems to start slowly coming out of his coma. But is this a miracle of modern medicine, or is it something more sinister? Belle is caught in the middle of everything as she tries to protect her family and prove to her mother that a sinister force has taken possession of her brother, while at the same time trying to figure out some way to save them - and most importantly her brother - from suffering a similar fate to the DeFeo family...
Amityville: The Awakening was originally meant to be released in 2012... then 2014... 2015... 2016... Finally, it got a theatrical release in October 2017 (where it made $742 on opening night), five years after what was meant to be its official release. That's why there were so many cheap knock-offs popping up in those years, as just about everyone with a video camera and their dog wanted to ride on the coattails of the first theatrical, "big studio" Amityville release in years. And after all that, it's not even a particularly good movie.
The portrayal of the character of Belle is particularly problematic for me. First of all, I don't think I've seen a character so blatantly labelled an "outsider" as Belle was right from the start of the film. She's called "Belle" in a family where everyone else's names begin with a "J" - the Hot Topic clothes and make-up are just window dressing at that point. And then there's the slut-shaming - when she was 15, Belle makes a mistake and sends pictures to a boyfriend, who promptly shares them with the internet; brother James goes to confront the guy and gets pushed off a 3rd floor balcony and ends up PVS... but the only one who gets blamed is Belle? I get that they wanted to create tension between Belle and her mother to further the plot, but I think this goes way too far and just makes her mother seem irrationally crazy. Then again, after the "God gave up on us so I decided to pray to the dark powers and move us into the Amityville house to see what would happen" revelation, that might have been the point.
The biggest problem with Amityville: The Awakening though is that, when your alleged antagonist is in a coma for most of the film, it loses a lot of its punch and scare. I know I've complained about cheap jump scares on this blog more times than I can count, but aside from a couple of dream sequences, the film doesn't even have very many of those. Once again, a lot of the scenes are shot in near-total darkness as well, which was bad with the low-budget movies but this one (I assume) had more of a budget than them and Franck Khalfoun as director, so I don't think it's remiss of me to have expected better things. Then again, the movie poster proudly informs me that this is "from the producer of... The Purge" (no, it wasn't Michael Bay, but he's about the only name not listed in the executive producer credits) so I probably should have known better.
Just like the urban legend of the Amityville Horror and the alleged evil that lives within, or below, or around 112 Ocean Avenue, this series is not going to die anytime soon, but maybe it should. After all, with the possible exception of Amityville Bulldozer, I think we've long ago exhausted every original idea and direction this concept can go, and now we're just circling the drain with endless low-budget and low-creativity movies. 18 films and barely a good one to be found.