The Amityville Horror film series is one that keeps trucking along. This despite the fact that each installment progressively gets worse in quality. With October being a proverbial dumping ground for direct to DVD horror films, it is no surprise that the latest installment in the Amityville Horror series, THE AMITYVILLE HARVEST, has been dropped with little fanfare. While the film itself attempts to do something different, it’s narrative choices leave one baffled and the uneven acting and distracting editing choices make it difficult to salvage.
THE AMITYVILLE HARVEST is directed and written by Thomas J. Churchill. The film stars Sadie Katz (Clown Fear), Kyle Lowder (“Days of Our Lives”), Paul Logan (Running Out of Time), Julie Anne Prescott (Los Angeles Shark Attack), Eileen Dietz (A Wakefield Project), and Yan Birch (Agramon’s Gate). The film follows Christina (Sadie Katz) and her documentary team visiting an aging manor to interview their offputting host Vincent (Kyle Lowder). Almost immediately upon entering his home, the team starts to be toyed with by his powers. As the film progresses, you wonder whether or not the team can escape from his grasp or if it’ll be too late.
The concept of THE AMITYVILLE HARVEST has potential. Though, I have to say that it doesn’t seem connected to the actual Amityville Horror series itself. However, potential is one thing. Successful execution is another. And, unfortunately, outside of the production design, none of the other elements came together to accomplish what was needed to pull this off.
If you take a look at the major focus in THE AMITYVILLE HARVEST, it focuses on a documentary team visiting a manor to interview their host about the truth behind Lincoln’s assassination. This plot point itself has major potential. The plot, though, gets drowned out by side plots that make things more chaotic and convoluted than necessary. You have a girl who goes missing at the beginning of the film. There’s someone who gets hired to work on the documentary team who also just happens to be investigating said girl’s disappearance. There’s some sort of deformed sidekick. There are zombie Civil War ghosts. And there’s a mysterious guy who drives a hearse who is also in on the whole thing going on in the funeral home. Needless to say, there’s a whole lot going on that either doesn’t add up or distracts. Had the writing team narrowed down their focus storywise, the film would have had a stronger footing.
The acting itself did not help in saving the mostly nonsensical storylines. Of the group of actors we see onscreen, Sadie Katz’s performance was the most natural and believable as the leader of the documentary team. Her grounded performance also helps keep the audience from completely checking out. As for the rest of the cast, the performances were mostly unbelievable. I wanted to invest in Kyle Lowder’s Vincent, but his performance was just that – a performance. There was a stiffness and lack of comfortability in his body language onscreen that made it difficult to believe what the vampire he was trying to sell us. And, as the primary villain in THE AMITYVILLE HARVEST, that’s a big issue.
The editing incorporated throughout the course of THE AMITYVILLE HARVEST did not aid the film either. While acknowledging that these edits were made to enhance Vincent’s abilities in the eyes of the audience, they distracted more than aided. And, if the edits were made to help enhance a story to hide the limitations of the budget, it was done in a way that was too obvious onscreen. The same could be said of the CGI effects utilized in the film. Whether due to limited experience with the effects, it would have been better visually for the film to not utilize them at all. A plus, though, was the utilization of practical effects, especially in the gory scenes.
Overall, THE AMITYVILLE HARVEST was a disappointment. The overall story itself could have used another draft, with some much-needed cutting down to bring out the potential that is there. In terms of the performances, better direction and, perhaps, more adept actors were needed to make things less awkward onscreen. Throw in the chaotic editing and poor special effects, there’s a lot working against this film. Will this film find its audience? I’m not certain, but I do think this film left the gate far before it was ready to be released.
THE AMITYVILLE HARVEST is now available on DVD, Digital, and On-Demand from Lionsgate.