The Amityville Murders is one of the many horror movies that claim to be “based on a true story”, a comment that is usually a marketing ploy to make the story seem more frightening and draw audiences into watching it. Films like The Conjuring, Texas Chainsaw etc also claim to be based on true events but for someone like me who is grounded quite firmly in reality when it comes to the supernatural I generally don’t buy into it.
Acting as a sort of prequel to the original or the serviceable Ryan Reynolds remake, The Amityville Murders is based on the real life murderer – Ronald “Butch” DeFeo who in 1974 took a high-powered rifle and murdered his entire family – children included. He is now serving 6 back to back life sentences after his claim of insanity failed (he claims that voices in the house drove him to perform such acts). This is an extremely unnerving true story and is an exceptional premise for a horror film. I never understand how films like this can be so far from enjoyable when the story has literally been written for them. But writer/director Daniel Farrands manages to make one of the most uninteresting, badly paced, poorly written and executed films that I have ever forced myself to sit through. Further research revealed that Farrands also helmed Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers – a film in the Halloween franchise that is generally regarded as the lowest point of an already mixed franchise.
I think it’s best if I paint the picture of how the viewing session for this movie went. My family and I were away in Waihi to scatter my Grandfathers ashes. This is the perfect environment for a horror movie. I sit down with my wife, my brother, my sister in-law, my father and surprisingly my mother (a women who walked out of Dunkirk for being too frightening and who generally doesn’t like cinema in general). An interesting mix of potential audience members and a good varied group to provide feedback. My mother left after the first 20 minutes out of pure boredom. Horror films are usually famous for their opening scene to hook the audience with tension and gore but this film was so badly paced that literally nothing happened in the first HOUR of the movie. 30 minutes in and my father (a horror film buff) was sound asleep with his oakley hat on sideways while we laughed and took photos of this snoring beast as it was more engaging than the movie. 40 minutes in and my brother and I were making fun of the terribly written generic stock characters (an Italian-American father who we were just waiting to say “even in my own house I get no respect” – which he eventually said). By the end of the film I was alone. Forcing myself through an hour and thirty eight minutes of pure, overwhelming, uninteresting, uninspired, unimaginative rubbish. I can’t even be articulate with my words or water down my opinion. This film is bad. Bad. Bad.
That’s it. That’s my review. I am not going to go into the technical elements of this because everything was poor. The scares were nonexistent. The script was embarrassing. The framing of the shots was uninspired and the scenes felt scattered and barely connected by a storyline. I actually felt jealous when the family finally got murdered (something that you know is going to happen if you have read the back of the DVD case). Unlike me who was left wondering how I was going to put into words what a waste of time this film was.
If you want to be scared by the Amityville Murders then check out the DeFeo family Wikipedia page – it’s more frightening and better written than anything to do with this awful, awful movie.
– Ashton Brown