NOVEMBER 25, 2012
For years I thought I had seen Amityville: A New Generation as a kid, because I could swear I had seen one with Terry O'Quinn as the dad, but while he's in this one, he plays a cop that's investigating the murders, and in fact this is the only one in the series that revolves around a group of friends instead of a family unit, so I have no idea what the hell I saw. Is there a haunted house movie with O'Quinn in the lead as the in-over-his-head dad? Or did I merely dream up a better movie than this one?
In my review of Dollhouse, I pondered why none of them had ever tried a new kind of setting, only for a reader to point out that New Generation (which is part 7, if anyone is keeping track) took place in an inner city boarding house. And now that I've seen it, I understand why they went back to houses - this one is so far removed from the brand that it could have easily been snipped of its ties and released as a stand-alone film. Or, as Mirror, Mirror 2, since the actual one hadn't come out yet (there are FOUR of those movies, by the way) and even when you consider the "haunted objects from the original house" storyline set up in part 4, this one doesn't really fit. See, the the building never really becomes haunted - it's just an endless series of people looking into the mirror, seeing something creepy, and then dying later in a similar fashion to their vision. The "evil" in the object never infects the rest of the place like the lamp and dollhouse did in their entries, so even if this WAS in a house instead of an apartment building, it would be an anomaly.
And, again, it's about a group of friends, who are pretty much all struggling artists. There's a painter, a photographer, some sort of video installation guy... it's an interesting idea for a horror movie "group", but the bland story and even blander kill scenes never really jive with the art stuff, so they might as well have been a group of waiters. Basically it's just an excuse for some decent (for a DTV movie) production design and some semblance of a big climax, where one of the characters has invited a whole bunch of folks to see his new piece and things go horribly awry. Actually, horribly isn't the right word - this has a pretty low body count, which is weird when you consider that the "group of adult friends" idea should lend itself to more deaths than a family that included 3 little kids. I'm pretty sure no one dies in the film's final act, which is pretty bizarre, and certainly doesn't help the fact that the movie is a snooze.
So how did a mirror from Amityville end up in the main set from Rent? Well, the photographer takes a pic of a homeless guy, and tells him that the photo will make a lot of money and thus hands him 10 bucks for his trouble. The homeless man in turn gives him the mirror, claiming it's been in his family for generations, stopping short of looking at the camera and saying "THAT'S WHAT THE TITLE IS REFERRING TO!". Of course, this causes some minor continuity issues, as the guy's name is Bronner and that wasn't the name of any previous Amityville family, so I'm not sure when he lived in that house to get the mirror, but whatever. As it turns out, he's the long-lost father of the photographer guy, who is now convinced he'll turn out to be a crazed murderer like his father, even without the magic mirror on his mind since it's mostly focusing its attention on his pals. So that's another problem; there's a potentially interesting movie about a guy finding out his dad was insane and worried he will follow suit, but it's underdeveloped because half the runtime has to be devoted to people looking at a mirror and dying later. And neither story has fuck all to do with any established part of Amityville lore, so I can't fathom why I'm supposed to care about any of it.
The only saving grace the movie has (besides a surprising amount of skin, if you like your horror to somewhat resemble a movie that would show on Cinemax and possibly star Andrew Stevens) is the number of genre faves who pop up in bit roles. I already mentioned O'Quinn, but you also get David Naughton as the building's landlord (I think?) and would-be victim, Tom "Thanks for the ride, lady!" Wright as a morgue attendant, Lin Shaye as a nurse, and even Richard Roundtree as one of the other residents; maybe not a big name in horror but certainly someone worth feeling bad for to be collecting paychecks in junk like this. And if you're a really good horror fan, you'll recognize the Naughton character's wife as Barbara Howard, who played poor Sara in Final Chapter ("I think I'm in love..."), and Robert Rusler, aka Grady from Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Speaking of Elm Street, the guy playing the homeless dude really REALLY wants to be Robert Englund, particularly in the 3rd act once his back-story has been explained and he spends most of the movie cackling and trying to sound menacing by snarling every line.
But, you know, you can see all of these people by flipping through a few issues of "Fangoria", and at least then you'll probably learn some trivia or find out about a good movie you missed. I think there's a limit on how many haunted mirror movies a person should see in their lifetime; no need to waste one on this.
What say you?
P.S. The DP is none other than Wally Pfister, who has been the DP on every Christopher Nolan film except for Following. I'm guessing he doesn't use any of this stuff on his reel.