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Review: Daniel Farrands’ “The Amityville Murders”

I may be slightly obsessed with The Amityville Murders and the following supposed haunting. I’ve been to the actual house twice, I’ve read several books – some claiming the haunting to be a hoax, others claiming it was real, and I always jump at the chance to watch a new movie that deals with the tragic events of November 12, 1974. One such film, The Amityville Murders, is going to select theaters, on demand markets and digital retailers beginning February 8th 2019 courtesy of Skyline Entertainment. As the title would suggest, the feature film follows the DeFeo family during the days and weeks leading up to the brutal slaying that shocked the nation. While there are several scenes that suggest the murders were a side-effect of demonic activity because of contacting spirits in the infamous “red room,” The Amityville Murders more-so dives into the realistic aspect of the six person homicide – the fact that Ronald DeFeo was physically/emotionally abused by his father, Ronald Sr., and was a frequent user of heroin and mind-altering drugs. The film paints a picture of a damaged but obligated family and the trials they suffer while one of their own is screaming for help. It’s a time capsule as much as a psychological thriller with a horror twist, and it will more than likely become one of the better received titles that focuses on this case. I mean, hey, I loved it.

Shot under ETA Films, Green Light Pictures and 1429 Films, The Amityville Murders is written, directed and produced by Daniel Farrands (Crystal Lake Memories). It was also produced by Eric Brenner and Lucas Jarach, and features cinematography by Carlo Rinaldi and editing by Dan Riddle. John Robinson, Chelsea Ricketts, Paul Ben-Victor, Diane Franklin, Lainie Kazan, Burt Young, Zane Austin, Noa Brenner, Kue Lawrence and Rebekah Graf star. As a production, The Amityville Murders is refined and good enough for theaters, which is swell considering it’s headed there on February 8th 2019. This isn’t a low budget indie feature glued together with love and effort, it’s a capable, compelling star-quality film that should be seen. The infamous murders of November 1974 has, unfortunately, reeled in audiences for decades and any newcomers to this story are greatly encouraged to check out The Amityville Murders. The camera work is amazing, the mood surrounds you like a macabre blanket, and the style/culture of the 1970’s is depicted in a beautiful, almost natural way. Amazing work from the cast and crew. Diane Franklin (Amityville II: The Possession… how ironic) absolutely steals the show. The whole cast was great, honestly, but the stereotypical Brooklyn/Long Island accents made my ears bleed. I’ve grown up in north New Jersey and, oh god, I just can’t stand the stereotypical sounds of the overly Italian accents.

A normal family on the outside, The Amityville Murders gives you insights into the lives of the DeFeo family. All of the characters are incredibly fleshed out and whole-some, although the two younger boys are somewhat left out of that sentiment. If anything, the film is completely thematic in the way that it handles life inside a struggling family and the hardships that a struggling addict imposes on their loved ones. The DeFeo family live in a grand house, seemingly with all the finer things in life, but on the inside of the house – they’re at each other’s throats. You get to see a lot of it in the movie, and the majority of this drama is content that is based on fact. Almost every book and even sworn testimony from the killer, Ronald DeFeo, backs the claims that the family was falling apart and combative. You really never know what’s going on behind closed doors, folks. The psychological effects from the drugs, and probably depression, worsen as the violence inside the family progresses. These two forces are a deadly combination more vile than the supposed spirits lurking in the house. Hysteria, is also a factor, that while the anger and aggression grows between father and son, the rest of the family falls victim to playing sides and over-reacting. Also, another point, The Amityville Murders addresses the age old question – “Why wasn’t Dawn executed like the rest of her family members, in bed?” You need to watch this movie to find out!

The Amityville Murders depicts witchcraft in the red room, acts that caused hallucinations and panic. By all accounts that I’ve read, the true meaning of the red room has never been discovered, but it was nice to see it on display here. The mystery of it all… While it’s more logical that the “ghosts” in the house were the effects of psychological trauma, the last half of the movie sees the horror elements come out to play until the gnarly climax that went down in the history books. And, yes, there’s a surprise scene just before the credits that you need to see that brings the whole movie to a close. Obviously, I loved The Amityville Murders from every angle, from every theory and from every idea. This is a well-put together narrative chronicling a family’s slow descent into the madness that eventually ended their lives. Drugs are bad, but The Amityville Murders is surprisingly good! Highly recommended if you’re a horror fan, a dark drama fan, or someone obsessed with true crime. Final Score: 8 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)