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Franck Khalfoun
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bella Thorne, Kurtwood Smith
Writing Credits:
Franck Khalfoun

A desperate single mother moves with her three children into the notorious, supposedly haunted, real-life Amityville house to try and use its dark powers to cure her comatose son.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 11/14/2017

• “The Making Of Amityville: The Awakening” Featurette


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Amityville: The Awakening [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 9, 2017)

Given its title, I expected 2017’s Amityville: The Awakening to offer a prequel to the 1979 film or its 2005 remake. Nope – instead, Awakening offers a sequel of sorts to those movies.

Due to all the spooky goings-on there over the years, no one wants to live in a notorious Long Island home. However, a single mother named Joan Walker (Jennifer Jason Leigh) moves her family there to be closer to her relatives as well as neurologist Dr. Milton (Kurtwood Smith), a specialist Joan hopes can treat her comatose son James (Cameron Monaghan).

Along with teen daughter/James’ twin sister Belle (Bella Thorne) and younger child Juliet (Mckenna Grace), the Walker clan deals with challenges related to their new abode. They also tangle with the supernatural, as the infamous house causes its usual shenanigans.

One aspect of this production gave me some belief Awakening would offer more than just another cheesy sequel: Jennifer Jason Leigh. A supremely talented actor, Leigh seems to be semi-picky about the projects she chooses, so her presence in a cheap sequel like this prompted hopes the film would rise above its origins.

Alas, Awakening quickly scuttles those dreams, as it demonstrates virtually no positives. I guess Leigh needed to add a pool to her house, as her participation in this clunker smells like paycheck-cashing at its peak.

One semi-clever choice appears here: the treatment of the prior Amityville productions. In this one’s universe, those films exist as films, and its characters refer to them. This veers toward Scream-style self-reference, but I think it adds a little originality to the proceedings.

Outside of that minor element, though, I find it hard to locate much to praise about the relentlessly dull Awakening. I guess I appreciate the fact that it doesn’t simply remake the original - Awakening clearly echoes that film, but it doesn’t just rehash the same notions/characters.

That’s minor comfort given the sluggish pace and flat impact of Awakening, though. The movie progresses awfully slowly, and it doesn’t use that cinematic real estate to build tension.

Instead, Awakeniing just leaves us disengaged. The film drags badly and fails to create momentum as it works toward an inevitable stab at a dramatic conclusion.

Those scares never arrive, and the movie usually just tosses tepid “boo moments” at us. These lack any form of dynamic feel and seem like little more than desperate attempts to enliven the tepid story.

I admit I’ve seen worse horror movies, and at a mere 87 minutes, at least Awakening doesn’t overstay its welcome. Nonetheless, the film fails to provide anything that resembles a haunting experience.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D

Amityville: The Awakening appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a good but not great presentation.

Sharpness largely seemed positive, as the majority of the movie offered appropriate delineation. Some of the many dimly-lit interiors could come across as a little ill-defined, but most of the film looked reasonably concise.

I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. I also noted no signs of source defects.

As expected, colors remained restrained, with a definite orientation toward a dull form of teal. These hues appeared bland but they served the production’s choices.

Blacks seemed fairly deep and firm, while shadows offered pretty good clarity. Again, some dark shots could seem a little dense, but these elements usually worked fine. This came across as a “B” presentation.

I felt the same about the often subdued DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it focused on the usual scope one associates with creepy horror films. This meant a lot of spooky ambience and not much more.

That said, the mix did kick to life at times. A scene with swarming flies used the speakers well, as did some of the stabs at scares, and music provided nice utilization of the channels.

Audio quality seemed solid. Music was lively and full, while speech appeared natural and concise. Effects also appeared accurate and dynamic. All of this led to a generally positive soundtrack.

Only one extra shows up here: a featurette called The Making of Amityville: The Awakening. It runs five minutes, one second and includes comments from writer/director Franck Khalfoun and actors Bella Thorne and Cameron Monaghan.

The show looks at story/characters as well as cast and performances. It delivers nothing more than promotional fluff.

Nearly 40 years after the original film, the “Amityville” franchise continues with The Awakening. A tepid sort of sequel, the movie lollygags across its brief running time and never manages to prompt terror or tension. The Blu-ray offers mostly good picture and audio but it skimps on supplements. Despite a nice cast, Awakening fizzles.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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