A desperate single mother moves with her three children into the notorious, supposedly haunted, real-life Amityville house to try and use its dark powers to cure her comatose son. Things go horribly wrong.
Belle, her little sister, and her comatose twin brother move into a new house with their single mother Joan in order to save money to help pay for her brother's expensive healthcare. But when strange phenomena begin to occur in the house including the miraculous recovery of her brother, Belle begins to suspect her Mother isn't telling her everything and soon realizes they just moved into the infamous Amityville house.Written by
The Weinstein Company
"Amityville: The Awakening" is the tenth installment in the "Amityville" series (but honestly, who's counting anymore?), and it follows Belle, a teenager girl who move into the famed 112 Ocean Avenue with her mother, little sister, and brain-dead twin brother on life support. Bad things happen, including her brother become a vessel for demonic energy.
It's been a long road for "Amityville: The Awakening": I remember seeing trailers at the movie theater for it at least two years ago, but it had numerous delays in typical Weinstein Company fashion—it also, if my suspicious are correct, was chopped to pieces by the Weinstein Company's subsidiary Dimension Films, who distributed (or were supposed to distribute) the film.
I have a soft spot for the "Amityville" movies, and have found even the worst of the installments at least amusing—what can I say? I love a haunted house flick. "The Awakening" starts out rather nicely with atmospheric, mundane goings-on as the family settles in, punctuated by genuinely chilling moments: On their second day in the home, the little sister says to Belle that their brother, James, has been cursing at her. The punchline? James is brain-dead and in a vegetative state. These sorts of moments in "The Awakening" genuinely work, and Franck Khalfoun's script gets meta when Bella and her outcast friends have an "Amityville Horror" movie marathon at the Amityville House. As they're watching the infamous "red room" scene from the 1979 original, the power goes out; it's 3:15am. While this move is risky in that it relegates all the other "Amityville" films to fiction, it's clever.
Unfortunately, as the film progresses, things get sloppier and sloppier; uneven editing and pacing matches uneven development of plot lines that are fairly one-note to begin with. About three- quarters of the way through, one begins to realize that there really is not much happening; the subtleties of the first act lead to payoffs that are frankly not that interesting. As I mentioned before, it's difficult to say who is at fault for the film's shortcomings, as the Weinsteins are notorious for cutting films to pieces (see "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers," or "Cursed" for reference), and a lot of the issues come from what seems to be bad editing. Franck Khalfoun proved himself a talent in my eyes with 2007's "P2," and with people like Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurtwood Smith, and Jennifer Morrison on board, there is considerable talent here. The young cast is even quite good, with Bella Thorne playing a sympathetic lead.
In the end, "Amityville: The Awakening" is actually one of the better sequels in the series, if we can call it that, and while it does offer some subtle and clever moments, it spins its wheels in the last act and errs into a rote, albeit shoddily-pieced-together conclusion. For series diehards, it's a must-see for the reasons I've stated above, but in general, it's a fairly unremarkable effort. 6/10.
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