AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (REVIEW)
Dir. Franck Khalfoun
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
The Amityville saga is one of the most famed franchises in the genre despite only having two, possibly three good movies in the series. Those being the original, remake and depending who you ask, the sequel/prequel that was AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION. Surprisingly there are, up to now, 14 entries and of which there are only 3 decent instalments. Can AWAKENING change that…
It’s tempting to leave the review there but for those still interested or intrigued AWAKENING sees a new family move into the long island home and despite referencing previous films, its new inhabitants seem blissfully unaware of the house’s history. Adding complexity to matters, single mother Joan (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has to bring up two children, one a coming-of-age teen, Belle (Bella Thorne) and her son, James (Cameron Monaghan) who, after an accident, is bed bound and comatosed.
With a complex family dynamic, the drama is tense and Jennifer Jason Leigh is perfectly cast as the protective mother but outside of family squabbles the film just falls flat and is quickly made obvious why it’s been in development hell for so many years.
The haunting of the house sees the events of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR recreated but without tension due to a predictable script and lack of any acknowledgement that this has all been done before. Add into that side characters who are vastly underused and badly edited in and out of the film through obvious reshoots and AMITYVILLE THE AWAKENING is just an inconceivable mess and should have stayed locked away.
Talent is wasted on this film that had so much potential. From director Franck Khalfoun, who gave us the brilliant MANIAC remake to the films stars; Jennifer Jason Leigh needs no introduction and Bella Thorne, while still developing an avid career as a lead actress, managed to deliver a much better performance in THE BABYSITTER (released the same year). Friends are frighteningly underused for plot points and Belle’s evolution from gothy teenager to grown woman is quick and underdeveloped.
While it is a by the numbers supernatural possession film, through bad editing, costume design (just look at Thorne and that dated off the hook Goth drab) unforgiving continuity issues and predictable plot, there is no saving the 15th instalment in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR franchise.