The Amityville Murders Image

The Amityville Murders

By Norman Gidney | February 7, 2019

On the night of November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. took a high-powered rifle and murdered his entire family as they slept. At his trial, DeFeo claimed that “voices” in the house commanded him to kill. This is their story.

Everyone knows the iconic Amityville House. Those windows that peer down from the attic room, the flies, the whispered words, “get out.” Made famous by the late 70’s horror film Amityville Horror, the house is as recognizable as the Jason mask or Regan from The Exorcist. The newest and 10th film in the series goes back to where it all started, focusing on the actual DeFeo family murders to explore what could have possibly inspired Butch DeFeo to take a rifle to the members of his family as they slept in their beds. DeFeo claims voices told him to commit the murders. We just wished that the same voices would have told writer/director Daniel Farrands how to make a better movie.

“…what could have possibly inspired Butch DeFeo to take a rifle to the members of his family…”

Our film opens on the Defeo Family as they are having a get together at the now infamous home. The teenagers, Ron “Butch” DeFeo (John Robinson), Dawn DeFeo (Chelsea Ricketts) take their friends to a secret room in the house where they play some spin the bottle, smoke some weed, and get involved in some Ouija board shenanigans. Through a few stilted scenes, we learn that the man of the house, Ron DeFeo (Paul Ben-Victor) is a real jerk. We also learn that the DeFeo’s are considering selling the house and moving out of state. The one that is none too keen on the loss of the home, for some reason, is Nona (Lainie Kazan). The Grandmother of the family, Nona leads on that she knows a lot more about an evil presence in the home, yet she doesn’t want the house to be sold out of family possession. See what I did there?

Shot in a docudrama-style, the film plays out like a very, very long reenactment sequence from a show on Discovery. It is an interesting approach, but it begins to falter when the narrative inevitably takes a supernatural turn. Robinson does well enough as DeFeo Jr descending into a spiral of hallucinations and madness, but not even the best performance could salvage some of the clunky scenes. I would go so far as to say that the performances were all relatively fine, with the one standout being Kazan as Nona. Here is a character that makes no sense, yet Kazan still makes her watchable.

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