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Hi! Welcome to Vertigo's Fun House. Here, you'll find write-ups on unsolved mysteries, riffs of creepypastas/fanfiction, and more. Thanks for stopping by! It means a lot.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Movie Review: Amityville: The Awakening (2017)

The story of Amityville: The Awakening is one of repeated delays. Ever since it was announced back as Amityville: The Lost Tapes, I had the lowest of low expectations. A 2014 trailer didn't do it any favors, as the production values and overall feel to the film was lackluster to say the least.

As for the aforementioned delays, Awakening had at least three scheduled release dates between January of 2015 and April of 2017, each of which it never made. It wasn't until October of 2017, around the time Hurricane Harvey Weinstein struck Hollywood, that it was quietly released on Video-on-Demand to middling reviews.

I wasn't surprised to say the least and forgot about it not long after. That is, until a few weeks ago when I saw an opportunity to watch it with my girlfriend. Such an opportunity, especially after watching the Academy Award worthy likes of The Devil Inside, Slender Man, and Big Hero 6—which I only mention as it was incredible and I'll likely not review it until never. So, I did just that. I watched it with her.

And… I actually liked it.

Bella Thorne did Amityville.


I'm not kidding either, I actually found Awakening to be rather enjoyable. That said, I'm not here to review the film based on how I felt. Rather, I want to look at it as an actual piece of entertainment released to the masses as much as I can.

Awakening is a meta sequel to The Amityville Horror, where in a mother and her kids move I the titular Amityville horror house where a man killed his entire family. It's here we see that the son of the family is brain dead and in a comatose state. Our main character is a snooty young adult girl who's perpetually in Resting Bitch Face mode. With her is her younger sister, who I'll admit is pretty good, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. She plays a mother who's too attached to her brain dead son. There's also the obligatory dog, a character that's in the film for about 3 minutes and could've been replaced with and animal that can legally be imported.

This cast of characters is, by and large, very plain. One can see who will live and who will die if they squint to see the neon bright signs over the actors heads. That said, I'll give credit for the actors making the most with what they're given. Cliche as they may be, there's more life to them than in something like Ouija. On the downside, that credit doesn't dilly cover for the insipid choices these characters often make.

As said earlier, Awakening is a meta-sequel. By that, I mean it takes place in the “real” world, with the story of the house, and the films, existing. This angle is actually really cool and adds a bit of levity to an otherwise drearily toned film.

Too bad the film never fully utilizes it.

While there are mentions to the “real” story and the original films are mentioned and even shown, Awakening never plays with its metaness. This leaves a gaping void of potential sitting around like a black hole. Why not take this opportunity to make the film I a haunted house version of Scream? Why make it another generic Amityville? Especially after nearly four years of development? Ah, yes, laziness. What a load.

On the brighter side of things, Awakening is a well paced movie. Much like Ouija, I can't say if it's intentional or if it's a side-effect of it's an accident. I say that due to the lack of originality; the film relies almost entirely on predictable tropes and genre cliches.

Also on a brighter side, Awakening is a decent enough looking film. Set wise anyways. CGI wise, it's really bad, which is surprising since Blumhouse films usually look better than this. This lackluster CGI only serves to amplify the crippling fact that Awakening isn't particularly scary. I'll give a lot of credit to Cameron Monaghan, who plays the son, for giving a significantly better performance than this film deserves. But one performance among a pool of “acceptable” ones doesn't offset the piss poor jump scares that litter the film like cucumbers after a screening of Fifty Shades of Grey.

With my more objective view of the film out of the way, I'm gonna take a moment to give my personal feelings on the film. Up until now, I felt about the films I've reviewed on this blog is how I felt personally. With Awakening, that isn't the case at all. In this case, I actually very much enjoyed the movie. In spite of its glaring faults, the movie was enjoyable in a very cheesy, B-movie sort of way. Originality be damned, I had a lot of fun poking fun at it. Its 87 minute run time also offset any sense of it overstaying its welcome.

Does the fun I have make up for its legitimate shortcomings? Probably not. Would I recommend this movie to someone? Honestly, yeah. If you have a friend or friends who will so back and make fun of a movie with you, this is one you can watch without suffering during it. However, while I may have had fun, there are much better made movies than this one to watch on your own time.

That said, for an Amityville Horror film, let alone one that was delayed for nearly half a decade, Awakening is decent and watchable in my eyes. Though it does leave me wondering why it was repeatedly delayed. I think it would have revitalized the Amityville label. Oh well, their loss.

Final Score: 3/5

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