Amityville 2 opens like a bulldozer in a glass house. The Montelli’s arrive at their new Ocean Avenue home, a place they will never forget. The mother and children enter the house while the dad (Burt Young) impatiently waits outside. His oldest boy Sonny (Jack Magner) quickly pulls into in the driveway and jumps out of the car wearing a three-foot smile. He begins to frolic about as he inspects their new demonic structure and Dad cuts in with, “Where the hell were you? I thought you’d back up your mother.” Sonny says, now with a two-foot smile, “She knows the way.” Dad steps closer and says, “Don’t be smart boy. You’re not too big for a whuppin.” Sonny replies as he buries his head, “Yeah, I know. You proved that to me.” Dad then smacks Sonny in the arm and says, “OK, you’re pushing it. You’re right on the edge.” This is about the point when I said, “Oh boy, here we go.” and we’re only three minutes in. The Dad might as well have been wearing one of those “drunk on board” t-shirts. It really makes you miss the early eighties when child abuse had a meaningful place in films of all types.
That same night, the whole family sits down at the dinner table to enjoy their first home cooked meal and keep in mind, the house is already unpacked. As they are saying grace, the entire room shakes just like a Californian earthquake. At the height of the event, a large oval mirror falls off the wall and the dad immediately stands up to scream at Sonny, “God damn boy!” The whole family yells at the father to calm down and he replies with, “Well, he hung it”, blaming his son for not hanging the mirror correctly. He’s just itching for a reason to kick that boy’s ass. At this point, I closed my eyes, slowed my breathing and begged for possession. Damn! I didn’t remember the film being this bad. But don’t fret, things do get better.
What the film has going for itself right off the bat is the musical theme composed by Lalo Schifrin and, as I have said in the past, it is one of the creepiest themes ever written. The second ace in the hole is the baggage that the Amityville House carries since just the name of the house makes piss run down my leg. Even with these ridiculous moments, the film is tolerable because within a few minutes we’ll inevitably cut to an exterior shot of the house showing those two creepy attic windows and everything will be OK again. I can envision the editor cutting the film. “Shit! That scene really sucked! Where’s the footage of the boathouse?”
One of the more interesting ideas brought to the table in this Amityville prequel is the secret room behind the wall in the basement closet. During one night in particular on 112 Ocean Avenue, we cut to blackness as the secret door opens and we are in first person mode looking out into the basement. We travel into the cellar, up the stairs, then up the next set of stairs. The entire time, the camera technique gives the impression that we are floating like a ghost and it’s giving me the creeps just thinking about it. Here comes the piss… This effect is used several times throughout the film and it is very effective. I kept imagining that I was the guy sleeping and that this thing has crawled out of that grimy, dark pit to creep around the house and watch me as I sleep. Hopefully it didn’t watch me yank the snake beforehand.
My favorite and scariest scene in Amityville 2: The Possession is when Sonny is having his birthday party. By the way, this is a few days after he fucks his sister – happy birthday bro… He is across the room looking back at his family as they look upon him with exaggerated smiles, like they are on some new wave game show, and then everything drops to silence. We hear a voice say, “Look at them. They’re pathetic. They’d be better off if you killed them. Don’t you think so?” OK, creepy! The contrast between the dialogue and the family smiling is truly unsettling. You just know that there are crazies out there who have these thoughts and some even act upon them. It actually makes me sick to my stomach because I can see killing your dog for fun but killing your wife and children is a place that I usually won’t go.
Overall, Amityville Horror definitely has it problems when it comes to production quality. There are scenes that are down right laughable. Half the actors have their shit together like James Olson, Jack Magner and Diane Franklin while the other half obviously left their shit at home. The special effects are a crapshoot too. I’m telling you, the whole film is up and down. It’s as if they were playing musical chairs with the director. However, one thing I will say is that the film is scary. In fact, it is much scarier than I thought it would be. It’s really too bad because there is so much potential here, I would really love to see a remake. Would I recommend Amityville 2: The Possession? Absolutely, but you have to get past the pathetic moments. Just laugh at them like I did and enjoy the ride.