Tuesday, September 21, 2010

House of Death: Amityville- A New Generation

Another Amityville film- yes, really.  I mean, there are 8 of the damn things- nine if you count the remake.  For those who are newer to the site, I have reviewed Part 3, 4, 6 and 8.  The first one was in 3-D, kind of.  There were like four scenes that featured it.  The second one was an attempt to turn the series in a new direction and basing it on the books...but they didn't.  The next one was about an evil clock that is a deus ex machina, until you restart time and just smash it.  The last one really broke the mold by being about a doll house...that's shaped just like the house.  It's like a super voodoo doll!  So, after seven months, let's take a look at the 7th film.  By the way, I'm not doing these in any order- thank you for asking.  This film is in the same vain as 4, 6 and 8- focusing on evil items from the evil house.  In this case, it's a mirror.  I don't have high hopes for this one, but it does feature 'John Shaft' and 'Locke.'  Then again, so do Steel and Shadow Warriors, respectively.  Will this film redeem the series or just fall in line?  Get out your living art exhibit for my review of...
The film begins with three, long minutes of a shot that doesn't change.  When your lack of creativity is evident in your opening titles, the sign is not a good one.  The story proper begins with a woman watching a man break into a car.  What does it have to do with anything?  Other than setting a tone of 'the inner city is rough,' it has no point.  In the morning, a man argues outside of the door of a woman before being chased off by our film's hero.  They keep saying the word 'keys' which is confusing until they finally explain that the man's name is 'Keyes.'  Your main character is named Keyes?  What's his last name- Alicia?!?  Anyways, he lives in an apartment building that includes his girlfriend, 'John Shaft,' the lead girl from Double Dragon and the lead from An American Werewolf in London.  It's an all-star cast...if this were a different movie.  Outside, our hero is given a mirror by a homeless man.  Gee, that seems innocent enough.  Our hero is an artist, although we see none of his art in the lead-up.  In another apartment, the D.D. chick's angry boyfriend from before breaks in- while drunk- and knocks things around.  He looks in the mirror, sees his scarred face and then crashes into the window.  Apparently he's allergic to 'sugar glass' and he dies from this.  Just to not be subtle, the mirror reflects to show the Amityville house.  Oh, is that related to this strange and sudden event?  Thanks for the tip!
Things don't get any better in the neighborhood- not that you'll be surprised by this.  In the wake of the man's death, a policeman (Terry O'Quinn) shows up and investigates.  He finds out nothing- about the death, at least.  A bit later, he invites Keyes and his girlfriend to the police station to identify the body of the homeless man from before.  Later still, he goes to the gravestone and sees the man's tombstone marking him as 'Father of Keyes Thomas.'  Dun dun pointless!  At the apartment building, a series of reflections in the mirror seem to posses D.D. girl, driving her to start a fling with the former Werewolf.  This all leads up to a big scene where the giant, devil paintings in D.D. girl's place scare her into 'committing suicide.'  This is such a traumatic event that our hero goes to work and finally makes some actual art.  Unfortunately, the process of making art also leads to him finally remembering his past.  Oh yeah, he also goes to visit a mental institution too.  As a kid, he went to go see his father in the place alongside his mother.  Inside the place, his father snapped and killed the mother.  Good job, asylum security.  You're about as useful as The Asylum!  In spite of that revelation, I'm sure that the guy is completely-sane.  Right?
Yeah, not so much.  He begins to make an exhibit for an art show being held in the building, since that is totally a logical thing to happen.  'Shaft' makes a performance art piece that consists of him sitting in a chair which plays a video of him sitting in chair...with a gun pointed at him.  It's about violence on television.  Get it?  Get it?  Yeah, nothing ever comes of this obvious set-piece either- boo!  Keyes' piece in the show involves a reenactment of the dinner scene where his father killed most of his family.  Sure- that's a perfectly-sane thing to do.  Unfortunately, he's being controlled by the evil spirit of his father via the mirror.  I suppose the revelation that O'Quinn's detective was there to spy on him didn't help things either.  He rushes to the scene as Keyes enters the room and threatens violence.  After a long stand-off, he takes control of his destiny and shoots the mirror, destroying it's power.  A spirit is so evil and powerful that it infects every object in the house, but yet you can just shoot it?  Really?  The End.
This movie is bad for many reasons.  For one, the premise is just silly and a bit confusing.  The evil mirror thing was done already in other films, including the original Boogeyman film.   It was silly in 1980 and it was still silly in 1993 when they did it here.  Secondly, when did this so-called murder scene occur that they are talking about.  Having watched three out of the six films that preceded it, I don't recall any mention of it.  Is this from the book?  If so, it's a bit odd to include stuff from the book when you cut just about everything else out of it!  The acting is not that good either.  Some of it- like O'Quinn and 'Shaft's' performances- are decent, but that's about it.  It's that same formula for bad movie acting- it's either too subtle or too blunt.  There is a middle ground, you know!  The deaths are alright, but they aren't enough to really draw you in.  At this point, the whole series was just about circle the drain.  They'd done four films with evil objects by now and one film with the release year in the title.  As you saw with Dollhouse, things didn't get better- zombie dad or no zombie dad.  Well, let's just see what happens when the folks over at Platinum Dunes re-remake your series in a few years, I guess.
Next up, I make one reader happy by talking about a 2004 film starring Julian Sands.  This movie is not for bird lovers.  Stay tuned...

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