A children's doll house, which is a miniature of the infamous haunted Long Island house, is given to a young girl where the demonic evil soon comes out to cause more terror.A children's doll house, which is a miniature of the infamous haunted Long Island house, is given to a young girl where the demonic evil soon comes out to cause more terror.A children's doll house, which is a miniature of the infamous haunted Long Island house, is given to a young girl where the demonic evil soon comes out to cause more terror.
Many of the sequels would spin a yarn from an artifact removed from the Long Island house that would then raise hell in a new setting. In 'Dollhouse', the house itself is an artifact in miniature. When the Martins, a dysfunctional Brady-style family (two single parents and their kids coming together as one unit) move into their new home, conflicts are down-to-earth and domestic until Martin Snr finds an old dollhouse in the shed that just happens to be the spitting image of the infamous residence in Long Island. As soon as the replica is brought into the house, things begin to go pear-shaped. Household appliances take on a life of their own, people start having bad dreams, and Jimmy, the youngest son, begins to see the rotting animated corpse of his dead birth father. Will everyone realise the cause of the disturbances in time, or will they all succumb to the evil designs of the dollhouse?
Amityville VIII, unlike its predecessors, makes no attempt to tie its plot in with the source material. No references are made to the DeFeo murders, demonic possession, or even the house itself. The only connection is the obvious visual link with the Dutch-colonial dollhouse, whose origins are never explored. It's as if the producers are saying 'Look, it's straight-to-video, you know the story, no-one will be watching who doesn't.' However, putting aside the very obvious question regarding where the dollhouse came from and what connection - if any - it has to the actual Amityville house, the story follows the familiar structure of its predecessors: characters possessed by demonic forces, unexplainable local phenomena and even killer insects. Also present is that same sense of deja vu, wherein you once again know you're watching a generic horror film with the word 'Amityville' stamped on it. To expect a lot at this stage however, after even the recycled ideas have been recycled, would be asking too much. This latest retreading still manages to be entertaining and not without its moments, and the actors present give convincing enough performances with the material handed to them. Compared with other entries in the series,the horror elements here are lower in tone, and the death scenes few and far between. There are a few dodgy monster moments, which while tied into the plot, aren't realised with the kind of budget that would do them justice, and the prosthetics only just about work. Overall however, the story follows its own internal logic well enough not to cause irritation and so long as you don't try to integrate it into the Amityville universe, it's an entertaining enough 90 minutes.
I have to say that watching every Amityville in the series has been torturously painful at times, sometimes making me wonder why I'm a sucker for B-grade horror. However, there have been some notable entries as well, with 1992's 'It's About Time' probably the most imaginative. 'Dollhouse' is a less ambitious rehashing of the formula, but it stands above the real clankers, enough to not leave a bitter aftertaste.
- Apr 14, 2010