Review: THE AMITYVILLE MURDERS Is Too Dull To Draw Blood

FIRST IMPRESSION

The Amityville Murders is a relatively well-shot, but disappointingly blandly-written horror film that feels more like a drama because it isn't scary.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

The Amityville Murders is a new horror film written and directed by Daniel Farrands. Based on the true story that has inspired many other flicks in the past, the movie is about a man who, claiming he was influenced by supernatural voices in the house, murdered his entire family as he slept.

The film’s premise is undeniably interesting, hence why it has been done so many times before. Yet herein lies one of the movie’s biggest issues. Although this is a prequel of sorts, the story of this house is pretty worn by now. It would have taken a lot for this movie to stand out among the many other Amityville films.

As a result, the story is mostly unsatisfying. There isn’t a lot happening until the end of the movie, but by that point, you will be checked out and not really care anymore. A significant issue with the film is that it lacks mystery. Being that it leads into another, well-known story, you know where the movie is going from the very beginning. That being said, this was unavoidable.

amityville murders normal
John Robinson as Butch DeFeo in the “THE AMITYVILLE MURDERS”, a horror film by Skyline Entertainment. Photo courtesy of Skyline Entertainment.

The avoidable flaw in the film was the poor pacing. The movie felt less like horror and more like a poorly-written drama. The movie doesn’t embrace the eeriness and paranormal aspects of the story enough for it to be truly effective in the horror genre, but there isn’t enough development in the characters or thematic aspects of the story for it to land as a drama.

Another issue with the film is its character development. Many of the characters are underdeveloped and fail to gain the sympathy of the audience. However, perhaps most concerning about the movie is that the murderer is presented as the protagonist and the victims are presented as the antagonists. It almost seems to be saying that they deserved to be killed, which is not appropriate at all.

amityville murders bloody
John Robinson as Butch DeFeo in the “THE AMITYVILLE MURDERS”, a horror film by Skyline Entertainment. Photo courtesy of Skyline Entertainment.

Surprisingly, the actors aren’t bad. They aren’t given much to do, but they try their best to add some emotion to their characters. Chelsea Ricketts does a solid job in her role, having the character that is perhaps the most interesting. Paul Ben-Victor gives an over-the-top performance, but it works within the context of the film.

In terms of execution, the movie is somewhat good. Apart from a few bad CGI shots and accompanying iffy sound design, the cinematography is pretty solid. There isn’t anything too complicated about the camerawork, but it works to achieve what it sets out to do. On the other hand, the production design is very impressive and does a nice job of capturing the period.

Overall, The Amityville Murders wasn’t a horrible film — it was just rather boring. Even though the concept was pretty interesting, the fact that it is so widely-referenced caused it to fail in execution.

The Amityville Murders is in theaters and on demand beginning February 8.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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