Amityville: The Awakening is the latest movie inspired by the Amityville haunting, but despite a great cast, it's arguably the dullest of the bunch. The original Amityville Horror was based on the book of the same name by author Jay Anson, which recounted the supposed haunting experienced by the Lutz family during their time in the Amityville house. The Lutz's moved into the house after a man named Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed his entire family there a year prior. After the book became a bestseller, it was adapted into the 1979 movie starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder (Superman). The Amityville Horror was a huge hit and a prequel followed in 1982.
Amityville II: The Possession purported to tell the story of the murders that took place before the original movie, but the sequel changed the family name to Montelli. While nowhere near as successful, the sequel is now considered a cult horror movie for its performances and disturbing themes. Amityville 3-D cashed in the on the short-lived 3D craze of the era, which also included Jaws 3-D, and featured an early role for Meg Ryan. There has been an almost countless number of sequels and DTV horror movies that have used Amityville as inspiration since then, including the 2005 remake with Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and 2011's found footage film The Amityville Haunting.
Even The Conjuring 2 featured a sequence set in the Amityville house. Amityville: The Awakening is the latest theatrical release based on the infamous haunting, which attempted something of a reboot. The story finds a family moving into the house, including teenager Belle (Bella Thorne) and her brain-dead twin brother James (Cameron Monaghan, Gotham). The film adds a mildly clever touch in that all previous Amityville movies exist within the story, and Belle even watches the original 1979 film to catch up on the house's history.
The house soon starts to take possession of James which is something his mother, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), appears to welcome. Amityville: The Awakening may have a mildly intriguing premise, but like so many of the previous Amityville movies, it's kind of dull. It relies on jump scares and spooky dreams for much of its chills and while it's got a surprisingly good cast, the drama falls flat. The behind-the-scenes story of Amityville: The Awakening is almost more interesting since it was shot in 2014 and when through about five release date changes before receiving a limited theatrical push in 2017.
The film also underwent reshoots and was re-edited from an R to a PG-13. Amityville: The Awakening isn't the worst entry in series, but its too generic to really leave much of an impression either. At least some of the straight to video entries like Amityville 1992: It's About Time - about a haunted clock from the Amityville house - had some crazy, over the top setpieces to set them apart. Amityville: The Awakening, on the other hand, came and went so fast its already been forgotten.