Monday, 11 May 2009

Final Girl Film Club - Amityville 2: The Possession

Ok so it's Final Girl Film Club time again, were the blogging world comes together, to bitch about one chosen movie, which this week is the turn of "Amityville 2: The Possession", the prequel to the 1979 original, which I only have vague recollections of watching, but I was curious to see if this film would prove to be more memorable than the first. So join me now as I now present you with my two cents on this months film choice.

Title: Amityville II: The Possession
Director: Damiano Damiani
Released: 1982
Staring: James Olson, Burt Young, Rutanya Alda, Jack Magner, Andrew Prine, Patrica Montelli Rating: 3/ 5
Plot: Years before George and Kathy Lutz moved in and were terrorized by the spirits in the Amityville House, a family, The Montellis, lived there before and were terrorized by demoniac spirits and their own son who is ready to kill them

Review: Sequels as I looked at with my last review can often be tricky things to pull off, let alone do well, with the main problems for sequels coming from trying to follow, directly on from were the first film ended. Still despite being one of the less well known of the horror franchises, especially amongst the fair-weather horror fans, who’d probably name “Nightmare on Elm St” & “Friday the 13th” when asked to name a long running horror series, the Amityville films have since the release of the 1979 original “The Amityville horror” spawned an impressive eight sequels, which includes this prequel and the 2005 remake of the same name with this film currently rumoured to be receiving the remake treatment in 2010.
Still with Sequels being such tricky things, it is perhaps because of this reason it was better that director Damiani, choose to make a prequel to the 1979 original, rather than a direct sequel, a choice that was also probably heavily influenced by the real life case of Ronald DeFeo, Jr who in 1974 shot his family, claiming that voices in his head told him to carry out the murders. Still seemingly this wasn’t interesting enough for Hollywood meaning that this film shares many connections to that case, changing the name of the family from DeFeo to Montelli, while at the same time, adding numerous details of its own to the case, using Hans Holzer’s book “Murder in Amityville” for the majority of the films extra plotting, with the most obvious addition of course being the idea of possession.

Opening with the Montelli family, moving into the now infamous house, they seem like a perfectly normal kind of family.....well actually they are pretty messed up to begin with as Anthony Montelli (Young) clearly prefers to rule the family with a domineering attitude, as he spends most of his time shouting at his children, even on several occasions appearing willing to use, physical force to control his children, but then when his kids seem as dysfunctional as they are, it makes you wonder how he hasn’t been driven (more) insane, especially seeing how his wife Delores (Alda) sees to be off in her own perfect little world, which gives the viewer that she is kind of oblivious to what is going on around her, even though she later confesses to her eldest daughter about how her marriage is secretly falling apart. Meanwhile the two youngest children are creepy as hell, with one such memorable scene involving Jan and Mark (played here by real life brother and Sister Erica and Brent Katz) play fighting in the kitchen, only for Jan to pull a plastic bag, over her brothers head while laughing “Ha Ha, Your dead” which to them seems incredibly funny, but to the audience comes across more than slightly creepy, much like the incestuous antics of the older brother and sister Sonny (Magner) and Patricia (Franklin), who even before the haunting’s have started and long before Sonny become possessed, are seen flirting with each other and even after Sonny has become possessed by a demon, (which is pure assumption on my part, seeing how it’s never properly explained) she doesn’t seem to find it weird that her brother is asking to see her naked, let alone the incest scene, which closely follows, with her only real remorse coming during an extremely brief confession to the priest, which here seems to only have been added, for the point of driving home the point that incest is bad (aswell as creepy), as no doubt Damiani didn’t want to obviously be seen, as promoting incest as a good thing.
Possession might be the main theme for this prequel, but we still manage to get a decent amount of ghostly activity despite this, including an extremely haunting sequences, as a paintbrush glides through the air, before drawing a picture, as a warning to the family, which Anthony refuses to believe is anything to do with ghost, much like when the kitchen is pretty much trashed by the spirits, which like the bedroom scene he’d rather blame on his children. Still these early haunting scenes, which begin almost from the start, as we are less than ten minutes into the film, when blood starts pouring from the tap’s, which would be enough of a warning for most people, that something strange is afoot, but seeing how it happens in front of Delores, she quickly writes it off in her own mind, rather than mention it to anyone.
It’s around the same moment that the ghostly haunting start to run out of steam that the film moves onto the main focus of the story, as Sonny becomes possessed, turning the film in more than one way into kind of a cash in on “The Exorcist” (1973) as we witness the battle between good and evil unfolding, as Father Adamsky (Olson) suffers visions of his own, such as holy water being turned into blood, as he attempts to bless the house and as he later attempts to save Sonny’s soul from the demon, which has taken control of him and which lead him to kill his family, during one particularly chilling scene, as a blank faced Sonny moves around the house, rifle in hand killing the members of his family one by one, while not even showing the slightest hint of emotion, in this recreation of the real life murders which the story is built around.
For fans of “The Exorcist” you might be able to detract from this film, for it’s exorcism like scenes, but personally I felt that it manages to bring it’s own spin to the idea, with a notably distinct lack of pea soup and more especially by bringing in the idea of a processed person, being driven to murder their family and how such a case would be seen in court, aswell as some still impressive transformation sequences, during the final confrontation between Sonny and Father Adamsky

The trouble with this film however is that, it never seems to know what sort of film it want to be, starting off as a family drama, as we see the dysfunctional family, trying to portray this image of family wholesomeness, only to then turn into a ghost story once the spooky thrills start, before then turning into a crime drama of sorts as we see Anthony threatening his wife with a rifle and even more so when Sonny kills his family, which in the lead up to those murders, the film is trying to busily turn itself into it’s forth incarnation as a possession movie, it almost had be shouting at the screen “Pick a genre already!”. Still somehow out of this jumbled wreckage of genre swapping, it still manages to be an entertaining film, even if this is your first introduction to the series, it stands well on it’s own or as part of the larger franchise.

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