Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Amityville Asylum

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! This is the 11th film that is about The Amityville Horror...let me repeat that...the 11th.  What number to we have to get to in order to have a good one?

The Amityville Asylum – 0 out of 5

It’s actually kinda amazing when you think about it…in 1977 a book was published called The Amityville Horror. The book made a claim that it was based on the true story of George and Kathy Lutz, who moved their family into a large home on 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville on Long Island. The book claims that they only stayed a month and were driven from their home due to angry spirits that stemmed from the home being built on an Indian burial ground and the previous residents being murdered by their son. If you look deep enough, their story reeks of bullshit but it ended up being made into a movie with James Brolin looking like a Muppet when he gets spooked and that spawned way too many sequels of ever decreasing quality including ones that tried to make a dollhouse and a mirror scary (and a player from one of those sequels wasn’t too happy with my review and emailed me to tell me I’m fat…so I asked him if he wanted to play laser tag. You can read all about it here) and it even got a remake starring Ryan Reynolds and his stupidly perfect abs. For some reason, this horror franchise (or the name and premise, at least) won’t die and many wannabe filmmakers are leeching off this infamous name in order to make films that come off worse than the official sequels. There’s been The Amityville Haunting and now we have The Amityville Asylum….surprisingly, not made by The Asylum.

Spoiler Alert:  This is the closest you'll get to ghost activity in this film.

Young Lisa Templeton (Sophia Del Pizzo…who, sadly, doesn’t have the last name Pizza) gets hired on at a relatively new asylum for the mentally disturbed as a night shift cleaning person. After being trained by the cleaning veteran of the institute; Delaney (Lee Bane), Lisa starts to see strange things happening in the sterile walls of this mad house. She sees a little girl wandering alone and a patience that recently passed away walking the halls. She soon learns that the asylum was built on the very location where the infamous Amityville incident took place and that the vengeful spirits are still hanging around. Things quickly turn from bad to worse when it seems that the operator of the facility; Dr. Elliot Mixer (Jared Morgan) is fully aware of the history and might even be working to help bring back the terror…

Before Dr. Mixer worked at the asylum, he managed a Blockbuster.

I’m not going to pull any punches here…The Amityville Asylum is terrible. How terrible? Take all the cheesy, painful, and non-scary sequels that tried to make haunted lamps frightening, put them in a blender and mix them all together and you have something that is infinitely better produced and infinitely more terrifying than this piece. I can’t say I’m really surprised considering this film is clearly just trying to use the name to get some uninformed people to make a horrible mistake when picking out a movie at their local RedBox—and this isn’t the first time the writer/director did this…he also made a film called Poltergeist Activity and The Last House on Cemetery Lane (he should really work for The Asylum because he already has the sleazy mockbuster producer moxie working for him). So, what exactly made this film completely horrendous for me? Well, baby bird, I’m going to tell you…

Here's a little taste of the quality the film presents you.

First off, there are the obvious and most expected drawbacks that are seen extremely prominently in Direct-to-DVD features: Absolutely shitty acting. Okay, that’s a little unfair because most of the acting isn’t overbearingly shitty. Sure, Lee Bane is choking on scenery with his pseudo-melodramatic performance, there’s a jerk orderly that is doing his best to use this role as an audition tape for the role of the bad guy in the next Expendables movie, and Jared Morgan is jumping back and forth from looking like he’s giving "The check didn’t clear but I owe you a favor" amount of effort and looking like he is trying so hard that it’s not hard to imagine that his overacting caused him to succumb to exhaustion after "Cut!" was called. When such fine examples of over acting is seen, the film presents us with Eeyore-level of acting from the likes of Sophia Del Pizza Pizzo. She looks like her whole mantra of the movie was "Why Bother?" because she is giving absolutely no effort. Fuck, during the supposedly shocking scenes, she barely looks like she’s giving a single shit about what is happening.

Her "not giving a shit" amount of effort, however, did come in handy during the
absolutely needless training scene.

Next up, you have the absolutely terrible lighting of the film. Too often, the complete lack of proper lighting makes characters completely obscured by shadow and while this can work occasionally to create suspense, terror, or tension, using it too often because your production clearly can’t afford lighting apparatuses means that entire scenes play out in near darkness (or lit by a single bulb in a hallway in the background) and you can’t see actors’ faces and their performance…but, judging by the actual performances, this might not exactly be a bad thing.

Also, if there was proper lighting, it might have showed the exact level of shittiness
to the sets.

One question I really have to ask and it was something I kept quietly asking myself out loud as I sat on my couch watching this like a crazy person: Did the production not have any money for a tripod? I can’t recall a single shot in the film that remained absolutely stationary. Every scene the camera is moving—and I don’t mean in a dynamic way like zooming and panning or nifty things like having the camera circle the action—No, this movie’s camera is constantly wavering like the cameraman is constantly battling the fact his body is seconds away from snapping into a full-blown seizure from trying to stand motionless with a camera on him for long periods of time…and that’s when it is at its stillest. There were times I actually wondered if the cameraman was drunk and was slowly wavering back and forth seconds before violently projectile vomiting and falling to the floor. If this is the case, I don’t blame the cameraman for being drunk, something was clearly needed to ease the pain of this go-nowhere, boring story.

And that last sentence brings me to the worst thing about this movie…the story is boring as shit. Look, I can overlook the fact that the writer/director never bothered to explain to one of his actors that she constantly mispronounces "Amityville" but I can’t overlook a story that is filled with predictability, clichés, and a complete lack of tension, horror, and suspense. The film is already on the verge of falling over the cliché cliff with its Direct-to-DVD Bingo style plot points but writer/director Andrew Jones could have at least TRIED to make something unique about this film (or make it less obvious he WASN'T trying). Instead, the entire film plays out exactly how you would expect it and it does so with absolutely no energy.

I had the same amount of enthusiasm during the entire running length.

These are just the major points of awful The Amityville Asylum threw at me. Believe me, there’s a shit-ton more because absolutely nothing about this film worked. I could nitpick about how the asylum looks awful—it’s claim to only be a few years old but, for some reason, the builders felt it necessary to construct a boiler room-style basement to keep their worst patients—with walls made of concrete and brick for them to hurt themselves on. Or I could talk about how the film wastes its standard running time by having the first 15 minutes show Lisa’s interview and then training—I don’t need to see her hear about how to get gum off some surface or what type of vacuum the cleaning crew needs to understand that she is a cleaning person. Or I could talk about how the production tried to pass off a Word Document as a website…

To sell the illusion, you could have at least done a spell check or add the words
that aren't in the dictionary in order to remove the dreaded Red Line of Misspelling.

I could bring all this up in detail but what’s the point? The Amityville Asylum wasn’t too worried about details like character development, atmosphere, decent music to help craft suspense, or even editing that helped actually show what the hell was going on, so why should I bother going into detail about the shitty storytelling and filmmaking this production showed? In the end, The Amityville Asylum is just another example of a Direct-to-DVD feature that is trying to leech some money off a pop culture product in the most free-use/you can’t sue us way. With its lack of a decent story, terrible acting, awful presentation and utter lack of technical know-how, the film proves to be an utter waste of time and carries no redeeming factors—shit, I could barely make fun of it because it was so bad and so obviously not trying to accomplish anything.

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