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Review: Hit the snooze bar on 'Amityville: The Awakening'

Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 4:48 PM Central
Last updated Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 4:49 PM Central

by John Couture

Amityville: The Awakening was originally set to be released in theaters on January 2, 2015.

Then, it was moved to April 15, 2016.

Of course, that date didn't last and it was pushed up to April Fool's day 2016.

Bad test screening scores pushed it to January 6, 2017.

For Christmas 2016, fans of the long-running horror series were given coal in their stockings when Amityville: The Awakening was moved yet again to June 30, 2017.

Sadly, that date didn't stick and finally, the film was dumped in a very limited release over Halloween weekend a couple of weeks ago (I bet you have a new appreciation for all of the release date work we have to do now). How limited was the release? It played in 10 theaters and earned a measly $742 total, that's like 5 tickets sold per each theater.

Films move around the release calendar for any of a number of reasons, but it's usually not a good indicator of its quality. What is interesting about Amityville: The Awakening is that there was a bit of buzz built in for this title given the bizarre fame of its star, Bella Thorne. I mean I'm sure someone understands why she's famous, but from what I can gather people are just really into seeing Disney girls go bad.

So, I would imagine that some of the buzz for this title centered on her involvement and the assumption that she might give in to one of the oldest horror clich├ęs and bare some skin. Unfortunately for those hoping for this turn of events, when the film earned a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, their hopes were dashed.

And yet, I grew up on The Amityville Horror series and I still contend that the original 1979 is a classic in the genre. Of course, it could have something to do with how young and impressionable I was when I watched it, but I digress. There was just something about the words "Based on Actual Events" that freaked me out.

Of course, between then and now, I have learned that those words are rarely as literal as they seem. For instance, they keep that moniker for this installment although it's pretty apparent from the onset that the film is anything but based on a true story. And that's sort of the first place where the film stumbles, it doesn't know what sort of film it truly is.

Is it a pure horror film as promised in this early trailer from 2014?

Or was it something more ala Scream where the characters are self-aware that they are indeed in a horror movie?

After watching the film, I'm still not sure which type of film Amityville: The Awakening wants to be. I mean there are elements of a straight-ahead horror film, but it seemingly can't shake the found footage roots that birthed this latest installment in the intriguing but rarely enjoyable franchise.

Another issue for me was the fact that Bella Thorne really can't act. Like, at all. I just don't get the obsession with her, but I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just found her to be annoying and that really took away from my enjoyment of the film.

Ultimately, this film basically became the direct-to-video film that it should have always been. There are few scare moments in the film, but they pale in comparison to those of the early films in the franchise. Sure, you can tell that they were trying to pay an homage to those older films, but the execution was less than stellar.

Still, horror films of varying quality continue to do well on home entertainment, so I would not be surprised to see this do well. I know that fans of Bella Thorne will turn in and that audience is quite substantial.

Amityville: The Awakening is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.