Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Amityville Week : Amityville 3D


This, the last theatrically released film from the franchise, takes a bit of a different route than the first two installments and comes off more like a generic (and bad) haunted house movie than it does an Amityville film, at least as we knew them up until this point. Amityville 3D is about an investigative journalist and single father who moves into the house, in an effort to prove once and for all that no evil lurks inside of it. Obviously, as everyone but him knows, he is quite wrong. Changing the whole Modus operandi of the house from everything we had previously been shown in parts 1 & 2, the house doesn't possess its owner but rather finds ways to kill off anyone else who comes into the house, including his daughter. It's a total departure for the franchise both in this regard and in quality, as the magic and charm of the first two installments is completely gone for this third go around. It's rather ironic that the film has an Omen-esque subplot about pictures taken before people's death revealing their tragic fates because when I just looked at a picture of myself taken shortly before I sat down to watch the movie, I appear to be sound asleep in it, even though I was wide awake at the time. Yes, that was my roundabout way of saying the film bored me to sleep. Does this franchise really die after only two parts? It's sure looking that way.

One thing i'm quickly noticing about the franchise that i'm not at all digging is the total lack of continuity from one film to the next. While the sequel, or prequel rather, totally at times disregards the events of the first film, so too does this one. In fact, this third installment even seems to disregard the events of the second film, with one character talking about the original murders that took place in there and referring to them as being committed by Ron DeFeo, rather than by Sonny Montelli, as the character is called in the prequel. It's as if every installment is supposed to be a totally standalone tale of its own centered around the house, which I guess makes sense being that the house is the real star of these things. But still, it would be nice to see even a tiny shred of continuity or even the vaguest allusion to the fact that Margot Kidder and James Brolin lived in the house before the dude buys it this time around. It's becoming pretty clear to me that the franchise was quickly taken over by filmmakers who saw the house merely as a cash cow, rather than by people who truly cared enough to connect the dots and make the franchise actually feel like a franchise. Big thumbs down for this lack of care and continuity.

Amityville 3D, as I said above, really doesn't even feel like an Amityville film at all. While one could argue that it's kinda cool that the filmmakers decided to go in a bit of a different direction, which I totally appreciate, the only thing that even ties it into the previous two installments is the house itself. And maybe some 3D flies. The movie seems to want to focus on anything but the creepiness of the house, instead treating us to endless scenes of characters having boring conversations with each other ... OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE. Even when the characters are in the house, the scenes are mostly set in the daytime, which totally sucks any scares or suspense out of the proceedings. Sad being that this is the last film of the franchise to actually be set in the infamous house (more on that in a second), as the house and its sordid past was totally squandered in favor of a lame and generic haunted house movie.

In the stupidest move in horror franchise history, the Amityville house is blown to pieces at the end of this flick, which sets the remaining five sequels on an unavoidable path of stupidity. Though I haven't yet seen any of those later sequels yet, i'm starting to think that the franchise probably should've ended here, if not with Part 2. It's not like this is a Friday The 13th movie and killing Jason off in an installment simply means that the next filmmaker to take the reigns has to find a clever way to bring him back to life. This is the Amityville Horror and when that house is blown to shit, the whole franchise is pretty much blown to shit along with it. Aside from having someone come along and totally rebuild the house exactly as it was, which would make little to no sense, the only ways to continue the series would be to bastardize the whole thing and go down some seriously lame routes, which seems to be exactly what happened. After this one, everything from lamps to clocks to mirrors from the original house serve as vessels for the return of the evil that was once housed inside of it and, eventually, a final desperate attempt to restore the franchise to its former glory sees a child's playhouse, modeled after the house, bringing evil upon a family. Now i'm not gonna judge any of these sequels until I see them, but man oh man, what a stupid move to blow up that house in only the third installment. Was the thrill of bringing a 3D explosion to the big screen really worth flushing the whole franchise down the toilet?

The only really notable things about Amityville 3D are a few familiar faces that round out the cast, including a young Meg Ryan (her 2nd film role), before she was nipped and tucked to the point that she looks more like The Joker than the cute girl next door she once was. Also in there is Lori Loughlin, who you probably remember as Aunt Becky from Full House. The best scene in the whole thing, in fact the only memorable or creepy scene in the entire 90 minutes, sees her character enter the house soaking wet, where she is greeted by her mother, who is completely unaware of what we're simulatenously being shown; her daughter has actually just drowned in the lake behind the house. The other familiar face is Land of the Dead's Robert Joy, who towards the end ironically suffers a similar burn as the one he sports in Land. Is it worth watching just to see a few people you recognize? Absolutely not, but I figured they were worth a mention.

Anyways, i've probably gone on far too long with this one. The movie is a total bore, lacking both the respective scares and cool effects of its predecessors, and i'm really starting to worry about the crap that's in store for me the rest of this week. Suffice to say, it's easy to see why the franchise went the direct to video route after this one.

I should note that though Amityville 3D was filmed in 3D, it was only shown in that form during its theatrical release and is only available in three dimensions via the UK DVD, despite the fact that the US one deceptively touts it as being 'Amityville 3D'. Even if you're a 3D buff I wouldn't try and seek out that UK DVD, as the only uses of the gimmick seem to be characters awkwardly thrusting long objects into the camera. It's not as sexy as it sounds, ladies.


Caffeinated Joe (Wings) said...

I have vague memories of this one. Remember watching it some time and there was a scene or two set in the attic of the house with Loughlin's character. Maybe a masochistic rewatch of these films is in order for me, too. And yeah - blowing up the house was a totally stupid move! Ugh...

Johnny said...

Ha, "masochistic rewatch". Sounds about right!

kindertrauma said...

I totally agree with you about that one good scene with LL! For about five minutes it turns into a good movie and then it goes back to being bad again.

Johnny said...

Exactly! That scene is really creepy and highly tragic and sad. A moment of total brilliance amidst a sea of boredom.