Amityville Terror and A Reflection on the Past, Present, and Future – Review

In the fall of 1975, Ronald DeFeo Jr. was convicted of killing his mother, father and four siblings at their suburban home in Long Island, NY. Months following the murder trial, the Lutz family moved into the house where the homicide took place. Their stay was shortly lived when they vacated the property claiming to have experienced horrific paranormal activity. This story went on to inspire the book The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. After the novel’s success, 13 films followed between 1979 and 2015. The latest installment, Amityville Terror, was released April of this year.

Uprooting life from San Francisco, Hailey (Nicole Tompkins) and her parents, Todd (Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau) and Jessica (Kim Nielsen), relocate to the small town of Amityville in support of Aunt Shea (Amanda Barton) who is fresh out of rehab. Soon after, the family of four moves into an old Victorian house and terror begins as paranormal occurrences escalate while the townspeople harbor a dark secret. This secret of an evil spirit and the local’s malicious intent is slowly uncovered as Hailey looks deeper into the history of her new home.

If you are curious as to how a title with such a recognizable name within the horror genre may have gone so far below your radar, you need not worry. Aside from the Amityville name and a generally played out backstory seen in many other unrelated films, Amityville Terror has no other connection to Stuart Rosenberg’s original Amityville film, Anson’s novel or the DeFeo case. In fact, suggesting it has anything to do with the original story is insulting.

Opening with a married couple packing in a hurry, the excitement starts at a dead sprint. As the couple is halfway over the threshold of their haunted home, a young boy with a bloody upside-down pentagram on his forehead appears begging his mother not to leave. The husband tries to convince his wife from the doorstep that this is no longer their son. As the wife turns back to the boy, the door slams shut. When the man manages to get back inside, he sees his wife’s body suspended with her guts hanging from her torso.

Going into this film with no expectations, this opening scene set the bar high in a hurry. After having my attention captivated without hesitation, I was quickly disappointed as the film shifted its focus to Hailey’s personality. To make sure there was no mistake between Hailey and any run-of-the-mill female stereotype, an overabundance of unnecessary scenes that resemble a Disney original movie shows this rebellious youth riding a motocross motorcycle and shooting a pistol crossbow in her teenage angst.

Weak character introductions ensue followed by vague storytelling details such as why the family chose such a major life change and randomly ended up in Amityville. When the old Victorian house makes its first appearance, it is apparent that this film will have very little to do with the original Amityville story. The house looks nothing like the infamous DeFeo home and lacks any sort of creepy element. Referring to this house as Victorian is even a stretch. The only loose connection to the original Amityville story is a history of a murder tied to the house. The one redeemable element to this film is a few brutally creative death scenes paired with Aunt Shae’s deteriorating sanity. At best, this is a generic knockoff of the original film, The Amityville Horror.

amityville terror

Though The Amityville Terror was a letdown, there is hope for the upcoming 2017 Amityville installment, Amityville: The Awakening.

With powerhouse actors Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, The Machinist, The Jacket) and Cameron Monaghan (Gotham, Shameless) as the leads and a strong tie to the original Amityville history, this film appears promising. Having missed its intended release dates last year and this year, anticipation has been growing. Now set to premiere January 6th, 2017, Amityville: The Awakening will hopefully see success in delivering an old tale in the new year.

About Brandon

Check Also


‘BAGHEAD’ (2024) – Movie Review

When I first saw the the trailer for Baghead a few months ago, it got …