AMITYVILLE POLTERGEIST ** USA 2020 Dir: Calvin Morie McCarthy. 89 mins
Another new release trading on the already popular Amityville name, though this property does actually have the addition of some not dissimilar windows on the top floor of the house, which is more connection than some of the films in the series have to the original property.
When the film originally went into production it was going to be called ‘No Sleep‘, which then was changed to ‘Don’t Sleep‘ and finally it was modified again when they settled with the title ‘Amityville Poltergeist‘ thanks to the distributors hoping that the name would increase popularity.
The story follows Jim (Parris Bates) when he picks up a housesitting job for $100 a night, looking after the home of an older woman Eunice (Rebecca Kimble) and her son Tony (Jon Ashley Hall), whilst they go away for a few days to her daughter Donna (Airisa Durand), his sister’s, house.
Alone in the house, Jim is chomping down on pizza and watching scary movies, as doors begin slowly opening, a girl – similar to the dark haired one from ‘The Ring‘ – wanders sluggishly around the house and ‘spooky’ images begin appearing on the TV as he sleeps.
The following night, Jim – already feeling slightly paranoid – invites his friends Alyson (Sydney Winbush) and her boyfriend Collin (Conor Austin) over to the house, who stay for a while before leaving him on his own once more in the middle of a storm, to face his growing demons and very real nightmares.
It’s difficult to tell when he’s dreaming and when he’s awake as random events begin to take place, on after the other – such as his teeth falling out and what appears to be Eunice coming back to the house, but on turning around is an eyeless, mouth-less entity and Jim then wakes up again.
Meanwhile, Eunice’s family are worrying about their mother as she tells them what she’s been seeing – them becoming more and more concerned for her seemingly deteriorating state of mind.
The film dawdles along with a few good scares, but the plot is made much less understandable by the continuously mumbled conversations of Jim, as he talks like a ‘stoner’ to his friends – his speech almost slurred as the volume on the movie rises and falls, making it a little bit of chore to follow what is being said. Too much dialogue does tend to drag the film down, but the acting is of a much higher standard than some of the movies in the Amityville series, which is an improvement for sure.
Just to intensify the confusion, Jim sleeps with Alyson, obviously keeping it a secret from her boyfriend.
You begin to think that the movie won’t end well when Eunice is given a gun and you’d be right, but the continuity seems to be in chaos; it could have been that they only had the use of one house/property for the filming due to their budget, but it’s not explained what is happening. At one point she is sat on the couch back in ‘her house’, but in the morning Jim is asleep on the same sofa that she was sat on, but she doesn’t appear to have come back…? Confused? I was several times towards the latter half of the film.
Jim, in a state of confusion – just like the viewers will be – phones his dad Jason (Jon Ashley Hall) for a heart to heart, telling him that he loves him and his sister, almost pre-empting a bad ending for himself, in the wake of the on-going events which are becoming more often occurences in the house.
The timeline then spins out of control again as Collin is killed at the house and Jim is found by Tony in the under-stairs cupboard when he arrives home with Eunice, who then kills Tony with her gun, having already killed her daughter in the previous scene – finally killing herself in front of Alyson.
Slightly above par compared to some of the movies in the series thanks to the standard of acting and a good eerie score by Joel Whited.
A final ‘shout out’ has to go to the person who must have crocheted like a whirling dervish for the set decorations in the film – from bed covers, to blankets to cushion covers to throws – in the lounge, the bedroom and even in the cupboard under the stairs; a vast majority of the film budget must have been spent on multi-coloured balls of wool…
Review by Ian Carroll