Starring John Robinson, Chelsea Ricketts, Paul Ben-Victor, Diane Franklin, Burt Young
Written and directed by Daniel Farrands
There’s no doubting the infamous DeFeo murders back in 1974 that inspired The Amityville Horror are nothing short of immensely tragic and ultimately perplexing in nature. What exactly was going through Ronnie Joseph’s mind at the time of the murders? Why was everyone found shot in their beds face down? More importantly, how could no one have heard the shots fired from the .35-caliber lever action rifle before anyone else was murdered? I’m only speaking from personal experience here, but as someone who has personally fired a rifle of that exact caliber, the sound alone is enough to raise the dead. But that’s my speculation, and that, coupled with a dollar bill, will get you a shitty cup of coffee.
Enough with my babblings on theory and possibilities; let’s get on with my review of Daniel Farrands’ latest film that delves into the DeFeo family dynamic – The Amityville Murders.
The cause (and legitimacy) of the events of that fateful night on November 13th have been bandied about for decades – was there a supernatural force at play that told Ronald to pull the trigger over and over, or was it caused by the pharmaceutical overload in his system? Was there more than one killer, as Ronnie had supposedly claimed in later years and then denied those allegations? No one truly knows outside of Ronnie himself, and he’s spun so many directional potentialities about said incident that it would have anyone’s mind reeling for days.
In any event, he’s safely tucked away in a New York prison with no chance of parole, and writer/director Farrands has put out quite the depiction of this family whose lives were ended horrifically. The movie puts “Butch” (Robinson) and the goings-on at the now infamous home in the spotlight. Sinister incidents are used to add a little flash to the film’s story, but I’m not sure if it was entirely needed. Deep down I feel that the endgame of this tale was a sad story about a young man whose mind simply fractured, causing homicidal impulses to take over.
There’s also a theory here about possible mob involvement in this case, and veteran actor Paul Ben-Victor is simply bad-ass in his portrayal of a father who loved to violently impose his will, and the beautiful Diane Franklin is compelling as the mother, Louise. All in all I could go on and on about the performances here. Top to bottom, all performers gave an aura of authenticity that breathed life into this heartbreaking narrative – even the legendary Burt Young steps in cameo-wise as Butch’s mafioso granddad, and fans of the franchise are sure to be thrilled seeing Franklin and Young together once again in Amityville. The film uses standard horror tropes in order to give the looks and feels of a chiller, but the overall vibe that “we all know how it’s going to end, but there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it” is the thing that gives this production the ability to stay afloat.
When the credits roll, you’ll probably ask yourself if The Amityville Murders shed any new perspective into the heinous crime – some may say yes and others will say no, but one thing rings true, and that’s the sad fact that six lives were taken on that cold November morning, whether the killer had “assistance” or not… that’s anyone’s guess. Make sure to check this one out when it comes to your neck of the woods as it’s easily one of the best films in the franchise!