You have a horror franchise about a haunted house. The first film is pretty well made, has a great cast and occasionally dips its toe into exploitation territory. It does well at the box office. The sequel goes FULL exploitation and even has a taboo subplot that will make even the most seasoned horror fan want to douse themselves in bleach at the griminess of it.
But how do you follow these two films up? You shoot the next instalment in 3D of course!
With this fad, two kinds of film utilised this newly resurrected and perfected format. Firstly, there were those films that would be good whether 3D was used or not. The filmmakers used the format well and clearly had a ball. It furthered how great the film was and was utilised brilliantly, not just for the horror elements of the film but also for the humourous sequences with an eye (pun not intended) to the gimmick being used (take a bow, Friday the 13th 3D).
But then you had the films that were weak to begin with and used 3D to try and mask this fact. It was almost like the producers of these films were thinking ‘Those bozos who go to see horror films will see this as it’s in 3D, even if the film stinks.’ Bums on seats and healthy box office returns were wanted, nothing more. Take a bow, Jaws 3D.
Unfortunately, Amityville 3D is nearer to Jaws 3D than it is to Jason’s adventures in the new medium. It starts out well enough with a couple of investigative reporters exposing a team of con artists who are pretending to be mediums who can communicate with the dead. They stage a seance in the notorious Amityville house (what a place to stage such an event) and then are exposed as fake during it. The reporters decide to buy the house and intend on showing that the house isn’t haunted and isn’t worthy of its paranormal reputation.
But after this, the film just degenerates into what has come before. The use of 3D is lukewarm and again pales in comparison to Friday the 13th third entry. We have Meg Ryan in a supporting role (when she became a huge star years later the subsequent DVD releases of this film would cynically give her star billing) but a good few years before she acquired her trout pout via lip fillers (imagine seeing those in 3D. Now that would be terrifying). Candy Clark also stars but not even her presence can make this enjoyable.
It’s all been seen before. When the inevitable flies made an appearance I royally rolled my eyes. What had been a knowing nod to all things giallo in the original film has now become a well-worn cliche. It will take a lot more than a few flies to terrify me.
The episode in the psychotic lift in which it travels up and down slightly faster than normal didn’t terrify me but just made me think that 1. I could be watching the excellent The Lift from the same year and 2. A lift going quicker is a cause for celebration rather than something to find horrifying.
There’s even a plot device used within the film wherein pictures taken in the house show evil faces and future victims as rotting corpses. This is a blatant rip-off of The Omen.
We even have the well-worn cliche of the Ouija board that pops up out of nowhere which just reminded me that I could be watching The Exorcist. The worst kinds of movies are the mediocre ones. A sure sign of such a film is that it makes you think of other superior movies that you could be having a much better time watching instead. Oh, and they’re boring.
And if there’s one sentiment that sums up Amityville 3D for me, it’s this. I’m glad I finally saw it as I remember the video artwork from my childhood so vividly, but boy, what a disappointment. In fact, instead of watching this turkey of a film just look at the video artwork and imagine a much better film.
1 star out of 5