I suppose there’s a fair amount of grim irony in a film about demonic happenings having spent so long in development hell, but the sad reality of Amityville: The Awakening’s nightmarish production – it was filmed in 2014 but is only just seeing a release after numerous delays – is that the thing’s such rubbish that nobody involved in its creation wanted people to see it. They will, of course – the film’s set to be released for free on Google Play on October 12, then to enjoy a limited U.S. theatrical release on October 28, and it might even have enough name value to do some decent business. Which is odd when you consider these things have never actually been any good; at this point, the only thing more haunted that the Amityville house is the Amityville brand.
Anyway, Amityville: The Awakening is a direct sequel to The Amityville Horror, from 1979, and smartly ignores all the other sequels in the hope that people will forget they ever happened – a mission that had already been accomplished, for me at least, about five seconds after watching them. Still, it’s an approach that recently worked out okay in Leatherface, so I can hardly fault writer-director Franck Khalfoun’s logic. Luckily, I can still fault his direction, his writing, his imagination, his tolerance for abysmal performances, his casting of Bella Thorne in any capacity, let alone as the lead, and his adherence to a genre template that is so tired and familiar that more than once I was quoting scenes word-for-word despite never having seen them before.