Belle, her little sister, and her comatose twin brother move into a new house with their single mother Joan in order to save money to help pay for her brother's expensive healthcare. But when strange phenomena begin to occur in the house including the miraculous recovery of her brother, Belle begins to suspect her Mother isn't telling her everything and soon realizes they just moved into the infamous Amityville house. Written by
The Weinstein Company
Infamous for its long history of delays, re-ratings and re-namings, "Amityville: The Awakening" has finally been released internationally, and it's a little gem that still haven't got the final form it deserved. Firstly the atmosphere and the look of this franchise installment are a big treat. By no means this a trashy production. Cinematographer Steven Poster, famous for The "Donnie Darko", created some soft silky photography akin to childlike innocence, which of course dramatically contrasts the harsh events of the story. With its dream-like atmosphere and surreal logic (partly probably a result of the production leapfroging) new "Amityville" steps on the ground of some morbid nightmares, disarms the viewer and easily brings in all the spooks. Someone in the audience, while we all watched the movie, at some point even screamed in terror: "I don't understand what's happening!". It could be plainly because of the story-telling issues, but this movie also has plenty of dark and bold psychological twistedness pouring over the screen. New "Amityville" still has some gore, even with the PG- 13 rating (R-rated goreness might make this movie way too depressing), but the good ol' suspense is at the center here with the haunted-house, haunted-youth themes. Bella Thorne is just beautiful (period) and also perfect for the deer in the headlights role, with a lovely Gothic teen angst style. Veteran actress Jennifer Jason Leigh gives a creepy performance of an overly fixated mother figure going through a faith and parental crisis. Leigh's as usually great in being very sweet and somehow lovecraftian at the same time. Her and Thorne's mother/daughter liaison is one of the best thrilling elements of the story. I haven't seen any other "Amityville" films, so it would be interesting for the fans of the original and the franchise itself to see what this new installment brings in (prepare yourself for a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the "Amityville" universe, which I found rather sweet). It has some cult-potential with all the R-rated version and Director's cut and alternate endings hopefully coming ahead (even the trailer shows a lot of scenes that didn't get in theatrical cut). Yet, the production havoc is especially obvious in the abrupt ending of the movie. You know something went wrong when in the end you get a voice-over basically explaining the story you just saw. Probably, french director Franck Khalfoun (good with artful gore, see "Maniac" (2012)) was heading towards more ambiguity, but instead we get a rather anticlimactic ending and Thorne's incomplete character. Still a nice journey into the dark for all the fans of morbid spooks and especially for teenagers, who are going to be shocked. A lot of jokes will be made in terms of how "awakened" this movie really is. Actually "Amityville: The Awakening" resides perfectly on edge of still seeing a surreal bad dream with just a second away from opening your eyes into reality.
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