The Amityville Murders is The Same House With a Different Coat of Blood
The story of the apparent paranormal events that occurred at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, has been covered numerous times in horror films. Most of these films tell the story of from the perspective of the Lutz family and their experiences in the now famous haunted house. Director and writer Daniel Farrands has decided to take a different approach. In his new film The Amityville Murders, we learn about DeFeo family and the possible events that led to the murder of six family members by Ronald DeFeo, Jr.
It was a welcome change to get to know the DeFeo family more through the perspective of Dawn DeFeo, the oldest sister and her brother Butch DeFeo. Spending more time with the family added depth and understanding into why the family was killed. Dawn is played by Chelsea Ricketts who makes the most of her role. Her scenes with John Robinson’s Butch were some of her best moments. Robinson really sells the crazy as the story progresses. Veteran actor Paul Ben-Victor plays the father-with-a-temper to a tee. He is definitely a character you will love to hate. Diane Franklin’s Louise, the mother of the family, is just the opposite. Franklin makes you feel sympathetic for her character, and you wish she would get out of her difficult situation but will know the reasons why she can’t. All of the cast do their best to give their characters some depth, even though their dialog is cliche.
The point of The Amityville Murders was a little muddy. At certain moments in the film, it felt like the filmmaker was making a case that the murders happened because of the domestic dysfunction of the family, and not because of ghosts. I think this was where the plot was the strongest. The scenes where we see paranormal events occurring felt forced, as if they were put in because people expected it. I think the story would have had more of an impact on me had it not tried to play up the paranormal aspect. Unfortunately, by the third act, The Amityville Murders falls in line with the other Amityville movies, which was very disappointing considering the refreshing start. There was a scene in the end which involved Dawn that was a real head-scratcher. I wondered if Farrands had written himself into a corner and forced his way out in order for the end of the film to match the real-life ending.
The special effects were uneven as well. There were scenes like one involving a large number of pennies that looked really good. Then there were parts involving “spirits” that really could have used some polish. There were numerous shots of the house where it was obviously CGI. I found them distracting and unnecessary. I really wish they had used more practical effects for the climax of the film because the CGI gunshot wounds did not look real at all. The music also felt very cookie-cutter and did not add much to the scenes.
While I found the telling of the story from the Defeo’s point of view to be interesting and the performances by the cast to be strong, the rest of The Amityville Murders fell flat for me. I couldn’t tell if it was trying to be a straight-up ghost story or true crime story. If it was trying to be a mixture of both, it comes up short. If you are a fan of the Amityville movies, you may want to check this film out but unfortunately, I cannot recommend this one to the rest of the horror fans out there.