Studio: Hannover House
Director: Andrew Jones
Writer: Andrew Jones
Producer: Andrew Jones
Stars: Sophia Del Pizzo, Lee Bane, Jared Morgan, Eileen Daly, Sarah Louise Madison
The newest employee at High Hopes Psychiatric Hospital uncovers the asylum’s sinister connection to the horrors of Amityville.
“Amityville” is perhaps second only to “Night of the Living Dead” for a word or phrase that is easily exploited for its association with the horror genre. A lapse in copyright registration put “Night of the Living Dead“ into the public domain long ago. Any amateur filmmaker, novelist, or random passerby with this knowledge is free to create whatever s/he wants and tie it into the zombie franchise free of charge. And even though George Lutz trademarked “The Amityville Horror,” Amityville itself is still the name of a Long Island suburb. No one can claim ownership of Amityville for inclusion in a film title any more than they can New York City.
In a chuckle-worthy coincidence that is really not all that coincidental, it turns out that “The Amityville Asylum” writer/director Andrew Jones was also the writer/producer of “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection.” “Asylum” has about as much to do with Amityville as “Resurrection” did with the Romero classic. Incidentally, “Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming” is listed next on Jones’ upcoming project slate. This gives one pause to wonder if any freely available horror IP is safe from the low budget stylings of UK production house North Bank Entertainment.
“The Amityville Asylum” opens with a presumed retelling of the 1974 DeFeo murders via montage over the title cards. It is presumed because the camera lens is jammed in so far for dark close-ups of blurry images that it is a true test of the eyes to decipher what is taking place. While the house at 112 Ocean Avenue remains a popular point of interest for sightseers and ghost hunters in reality, the movie’s fictionalized history has the residence torn down. Violating an untold number of zoning laws concerning suburban development, Dr. Elliot Mixter then erects the High Hopes Psychiatric Hospital in its place, smack dab in the center of a residential area.
Lisa Templeton is the one person in Long Island who is blissfully unaware of Amityville’s sordid history. She belongs to a stable of British actors playing characters that have a devil of a time unsuccessfully attempting to mask their English origins. Although no one is fooling anybody about his/her true nationality, the feigned American accents are nowhere near as distracting as the actress who continually pronounces the town’s name as “Uh-middy-ville.”
After taking a job mopping floors as a custodian at the shadowy facility, the audience then joins Lisa for an on the job orientation that goes into a ridiculously coma-inducing amount of detail regarding her job duties. Actual dialogue from the movie includes: “The steam is super-heated to 180 degrees and delivered at seven point zero bar pressure. It can produce 115 liters of super-heated steam per minute … For concrete, mix in one to four parts water. Brush or spray it on with the equipment here then leave to set for five to ten minutes. But for those stubborn … marks, use this neat.” Is this a horror movie or a commercial for Murphy’s Oil Soap?
The moments of mystery are tepid revelations along the lines of, “you couldn’t have seen a little girl because there is no one here of that age,” and, “you couldn’t have seen the old woman because she died this morning.” In case the viewer is brain dead, such lines are delivered with an accompanying “do-do-dun” of piano keys to emphasize the “oooohhh” reveal as something supposedly supernaturally intriguing.
From there, Lisa and her friend Nancy piece together some malarkey about a cult, a Native American tribe that practiced witchcraft, the summoning of something called “The Dark Master,” and a lot of other things that make no sense when stirred together inside Amityville’s recently erected asylum. Seeing any of these ideas in action might have been worthwhile, but “The Amityville Asylum” introduces its concepts as a stream of words read from Lisa’s computer screen instead of visualizing them as something truly terrifying on the actual movie screen.
In Germany, the movie is known under the title “The Nesting 2: Amityville Asylum.” “The Nesting” is a little-known horror film from 1981. When the distributor is so desperate to sell a new product that leashing it to a largely forgotten flick from over thirty years ago seems like a boon, then a movie has quality problems on a fundamental level.
Amityville residents long tired of the looky-loos descending on their neighborhood reportedly shout and beep car horns as discouragement to tourists posing in front of the infamous house. It would seem that their frustration is at least partially misdirected. Hollywood, and in this case the United Kingdom, has done far more to irreparably tarnish the name of Amityville than George Lutz would have ever dreamed possible.
Review Score: 20