Wednesday, 25 January 2012

THE AMITYVILLE HAUNTING - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Imagine, if you will, a horror film in which nothing happens and has no scares.

The Amityville Haunting (2011) dir. Geoff Meed
Starring: Devin Clark, Douglas Williams, Amy Van Horne, Casey Campbell


By Greg Klymkiw

Though the "found footage" horror movie à la The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity is becoming overused, old-hat and an excuse for any bonehead to pick up a camera and make a movie, this is still a reasonable format to render a rip-snorting scare-fest - if, of course, those behind the camera have even the vaguest idea of what they're doing which, the makers of The Amityville Haunting do not.

I can't say I ever much liked Stuart Rosenberg's original 70s Amityville picture. It was relatively watchable, but erratically directed - veering from plodding to overwrought. What saved it, of course, was its terrific cast of James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Don Stroud and a healthy serving of one of the more delightful hunks of Rod Steiger ham. I liked the 2005 remake even less - fraught as it was with the too fashionable A.D.D.-styled editing and accent on numbing pyrotechnics - and the Amityville sequels between 1979 and 2005 were as rotten as an exhumed corpse on a hot day.

The Amityville Haunting, however, reaches an unimaginable nadir for even this ho-hum franchise. While a "found footage" instalment is a reasonable enough approach to a film dealing with the house that haunted the Lutz family back in '79, the makers of this abomination display no talent for writing, directing or editing. Certainly there are no magnificent set pieces imbued with the thought and proficiency displayed in Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity franchise and it's bereft of Peli's brilliant gift for pacing which creates endless creepy-crawlies and shocks that truly deliver one roundhouse after another.

This 'found footage" septic tank purporting to be a movie is paced with all the constipated delicacy of its incompetent director Geoff Meed endlessly attempting to emit anything resembling a turd. Upon straining his gluteus maximus with Herculean vigour, Meek manages to self-perforate his sphincter du cinéma which results in a few bleeding anal fissures. During the picture's non-event climax, he emits what appear to be a couple of rock-hard étrons de le lapin.

What we get, finally, is a really stupid family moving into the Amityville House - knowing its entire history - while their obnoxious, untalented kid videotapes them moving in and occasionally noticing the requisite weird occurrences. Add to the mix a whole mess of dull surveillance footage and bits of iPhone-captured action and we've got a recipe for boredom. If the makers of the picture had something resembling talent, the mixture of video mediums could have been a decent way to present the story, but they have no idea how to blend it all cohesively and ultimately, there really isn't anything that resembles a story.

The last few minutes deliver a whole lot of pathetically rendered carnage that mostly takes place off-screen with titles over black that read: "Corrupted Video". It's corrupted all right - with not a single moment of competence. In this sense, the movie might be the most pure work of cinema ever made - pure, unadulterated Loser-ville.

That said, the movie has a handful of decent unintentional laughs, but alas, they're too few and far between to place this culot de matières fécales de l'anus d'un lapin in the movie-so-bad-you've-gotta-see-it category. One scene, however, is almost hilarious enough to rent the movie. It involves a visit from a detective who might actually be more stupid than anyone in this or any other movie.

Ah, screw it! There's no real reason to see The Amityville Haunting.

I did, though, so you don't have to.

"The Amityville Haunting" is available on DVD and Blu-Ray via VSC (Video Service Corp.) VSC often releases cool stuff, though, and be on the lookout for my mixed, but positive review of their release of the SYFY undead opus with Ving Rhames "Zombie Apocalypse" in the next issue of The Phantom of the Movies Videoscope.