Amityville: The Awakening
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Amityville: The Awakening

While every genre of movie is prone to spawning and seemingly endless stream of needless sequels, it does appear that horror flicks possess a greater statistical edge in this occurrence. Some horror franchises can extend to a dozen or more installments. Frequently the story is concerned with some variation of the immortal embodiment of evil such as Freddie, Jason or Michael. In cases such as this, the individual movies can have a satisfying ending where the final girl dispatches the killing machine adversary, only to have him resurrected once the box office receipts are counted. One example of a horror franchise that has gone past the point of even a modicum of originality is the ‘Amityville Horror.’ Rather than the villain taking a human form the source of the terror is a house. I would hate to be the realtor with this listing. Reaching a point in the sales pitch where the disclosure of a crucial element of property's past becomes necessary It might require several hours. After which the prospective client will politely take their leave never to be seen by that agent again. The Amityville Horror film franchise began in 1979 and currently consists of 18 movies. In typical fashion for a series of movies with such longevity, the quality has degraded over time. The original became one of the most successful independent movies up until that time. However, the latest offering, ‘Amityville: The Awakening,’ initially opened in Ukraine, as the studio didn’t trust a domestic opening to launch the flick. The arrival of the producers to con

Upon bringing the movie to the United States it received a limited opening of ten theaters bringing in a total box office of about $75 per venue resulting in a total opening of $742for comparison the original film had a budget of a modest $19 million earning a gross return of over $65 million exclusive of foreign returns and the various income derived from cable, streaming and disc profits. The reason this consideration presents such fiscal details it to postpone the inevitable discussion of the actual movie.

Belle Walker (Bella Thorne), is a typical teenage girl upset with the unilateral decisions made by her mother, Joan (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that seriously affects her life. The family moved to a quaint house located at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long Island. Bells and her mother were accompanied by her younger sister Juliet (Mckenna Grace) and Belle’s twin brother James (Cameron Monaghan) who are affected by a severely debilitating neurological disorder. Joan dislocated her family because of her son’s medical condition currently under treatment by neurologist Dr. Milton (Kurtwood Smith).An accident left apparently in a vegetative state requiring life support. Such a serious chronic medical condition has understandably disrupted the family dynamic. When combined with the standard stress of changing schools, moving away from her established social life only serves to intensify the customary teen angst substantially.

It is mandatory that when a teenager is summarily uprooted from their lives isolating them from their friends their insertion into the new environment can take one of two paths. Either the teen is brutally bullied until they snap or completely withdraw, or they fall in with a dangerously wrong crowd. When I saw the lead was given to Bella Thorne, former Disney Studios starlet in training, I was certain that the story would have her join the local ‘Pink Ladies’ chapter. Ms. Thorne has been proactive in shaking the good girl image from her time on the Disney tween sitcom, ‘Shake it Up.’ The constant public appearances in minimal clothing and maximum makeup when placed in context with some roles as troubled/ bad teens, I was surprised she had the opportunity to break away as much as possible undertaking the familiar role of the final or survival girl. Bella is ridiculed at her new school because everybody but her is aware of the evil reputation of her new house. Belle manages to meet a couple of kids that can hang out with her, if only out of morbid curiosity. Terrence (Thomas Mann), who has a distinct fascination with the deaths associated with the house and another classmate, Marissa (Taylor Spreitler). Belle is upset when she learns that in 1974 Ronald DeFeo Jr slaughtered his family and that the site of the worse carnage was dubbed the ‘Red Room,’ her new bedroom. She uncovers some of the blood stains under the wallpaper. Her family had already experienced an odd occurrence James flatlines only to open his eyes a few moments later suddenly. Belle invites Terrence and Marissa to watch the original 1979 movie. Meta moments like this are becoming increasingly popular but very few filmmakers can properly pull off. On this instance, it comes across as exploitation of the far superior original and a desperate plot contrivance to remind the audience that this movie is connected to the franchise. At the time well known to the diehard fans of the franchise, 3:15 am, in the middle of the movie, the electricity goes out. The kids venture down to the basement to change the fuse.

For a movie that is going to the meta storyline, the characters are exceptionally genre blind. In a house suspected of being inhabited by extremely malevolent and murderous entities, you don’t go down in the basement in the dark. Especially in an unfamiliar house. They were fortunate that Joan only contributed them under the impression they were intruders. Even then Joan should have realized her daughter was watching a movie with some kids from school, but her mind goes to intruders, this could be attributed to the perception-warping that has become common in this franchise as one of the house’s methods to unhinge its inhabitants. Many of the shortcomings plaguing the movie are relatively minor blocked In Syndrome. With this condition but when they occur with such frequency as seen here the cumulative effect races beyond annoying. There is something I usually refer to as anti-synergism, where the sum is less than the parts. For that condition to be applicable, there must be some intrinsic worth to those parts. That is an objective not reached with any constituent part of the flick.

The neurologist, Dr. Milton, diagnosis James with Locked-in Syndrome. Patients afflicted with this condition retain relatively normal higher neurological capacities but are entirely unable to move. Their mind is imprisoned in a frozen body, fully aware but completely helpless. During the diagnostic testing James, he sees an apparition that overwhelms the room targeting James for an attack. The presence leaves the room, but the experience altered James. He can communicate using a computerized system that allows people with various disabilities. James uses that device to cry for help certain that he is being controlled. In quick order, the movie is only 85 minutes. Belle can disconnect her brother from the ventilator. As the pedantic story continues the ability to retain a semblance of coherent narrative disintegrates entirely. During this descent into a cinematic quagmire, Belle tries to convince her mother that James was possessed, her mother rejects the premise detailing how she lost her faith in God and that she had hoped to somehow tap into the evil energy of the house to forward her agenda. Just to muddy the story further Joan’s sister Candice (Jennifer Morrison) comes for a visit. This addition does very little to properly forward the story or bring it closer to making sense. The new character does bring about some stunt casting. The television series that Ms. Morrison has stared, ‘Once Upon a time, featured Mckenna Grace Mckenna Grace portraying the younger version of Ms. Morrison’s Character. Another actor here known for co-starring in another hit series is Cameron Monaghan, who has stared in for over eight years as Ian Gallagher in Showtime’s hit series, ‘Shameless.‘ Unfortunately, this is a case of a popular, exceptionally talented actor taking on a part that does absolutely nothing to showcase his abilities. A waste of a story is one thing. Providing performers of lesser talent are understandable to gain experience. What is not acceptable is to waste talent so completely.

Posted         12/24/2017

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