Monday, October 25, 2021

It's About Time We Played In An Amityville Dollhouse!

 I hate to repeat myself, but this series keeps forcing me to recap several key points:

- The Amityville Horror (1979) is not a good movie
- The 926 sequels (both official and non) sure know how to have a good time.

Messy exorcisms? Evil clocks? Killer floor lamps that looks like the lovechild of Jack Skellington and every sleazy Italian landlord in the opening of a Law & Order murder scene? Classics I say. 

Surely #8: Amityville Dollhouse has to keep the cycle going, right? 

Quick Plot: Contractor Bill is excited to move his newly merged family into the house he's been building: a '90s McMansion that happens to be located on the same lot where a family burned to death. Trifles, that, since the real problem is having his new wife Claire, her nerdy son Jimmy, and his kids (moody teen Todd and normal daughter Jessica) all get along.

Jimmy, you see, is what we'd call an indoor kid. His only friend is a pet mouse named Max (don't get too attached) and the fact that he bears such an uncanny resemblance to Robin Arryn (that kid who breastfed far too long on Game of Thrones) certainly doesn't help him socially.


Despite some in-fighting, life seems to be going smoothly enough for Jessica's birthday party, which promptly gets spoiled when Todd throws a toy tarantula into the piñata to give Jimmy a good scare. The problem? It's most definitely alive.

Surely said trick has nothing to do with the mysterious dollhouse Bill found in the house's shed, a dollhouse with a layout that might look familiar to fans of the 1979 original. 


While the movie makes no effort in any way to explain the connection, it's clear from the moment the dollhouse makes its first kill that evil is afoot. 

Its first kill is the pink and purple bicycle intended for Jessica's birthday.

Up next, poor little Max, who sneaks into the dollhouse and turns into a Food of the Gods-ish monster puppet, quickly slain when Todd knocks into the toy. As if the tension wasn't high enough, Claire suddenly finds herself aggressively attracted to her teenage stepson, Bill has recurring nightmares about his family dying horribly, Jessica can't shake a tummy ache, and Jimmy is being visited by the decaying ghost of his dead soldier father intent on murdering his replacement. 

All that PLUS evil voodoo dolls and violent bookshelves!

Directed by Steve White (a veteran producer with this as his sole directing credit), Amitvyille Dollhouse is not a lazy film. Take, for example, a breakfast scene that clearly involves a camera shot by way of a lazy susan, giving us an earnest attempt at artful cinematography in a movie that will eventually have our heroes hiding from these things in a laser field. 

Obviously, I had a good time and obviously, you'll get the same basic conclusion I drew from It's About Time and The Evil Escapes, what it lacks in actual scares is more than made up by enthusiastic weirdness. 

I can't think of a nicer thing to say about an evil dollhouse movie. 

High Points
Sure, your Paranormal Activities and Burnt Offerings work by building a steady level of slow building tension, I will never complain about a trashy genre movie just saying "screw it, let's throw in a giant mouse puppet at the 30 minute mark"

Low Points
SPOILERS! As is often the case in Amityville movies, it's a little unfair that the main family is fully spared while those unlucky enough to stop by end up horribly murdered. In the case of Dollhouse, that sad fate falls to the groovy new age uncle and worse, Todd's perfectly pleasant girlfriend Dana, who divulges her sad life story only to constantly be called trash by Bill and Claire and ultimately get her entire face burnt to a crisp. It's not a good look for the film

Lessons Learned
Once a geek, always a geek

There's a notable difference between killing and hurting

Half a bottle of tequila filled margaritas are great and all, but have you tried paying attention to your girlfriend so her face isn't burned off by your haunted fireplace?

Amityville Dollhouse is streaming on my new favorite (and free) service in the world, Tubi. Sure, you'll have to watch the occasional commercial, but if it's the only way you can also watch tiny sock dolls come to life and use books as weapons, you can manage. 

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