AMITYVILLE: NO ESCAPE
RELEASE DATE: Advance Review. Head here for info on the film’s release!
WRITTEN BY: Ira Gansler
DIRECTED BY: Henrique Couto
STARRING: Joni Durian, Alia Gabrielle Eckhardt, Allison Egan, Julia Gomez
AMITYVILLE: NO ESCAPE, the new found-footage fright flick from independent horror maestro Henrique Couto, concerns a college student, his cameraman, and his friends who enter the woods of Amityville, N.Y., to better define fear (via isolation in a reputedly haunted environment) as part of a filmed thesis project.
Interspersed throughout the footage our intrepid explorers of the dreaded unknown are filming are sequences from a VHS tape from 1997 (a clever nod to the original THE AMITYVILLE HORROR’s release date of 1979 as are the dead flies found on a windowsill that recall one of that film’s classic scenes, and the belongings of the former residents who vacated, leaving all of their personal effects behind) containing the day-to-day life of a (now) former resident, living on her own until her husband can join her, of the famous cursed abode that stands within the titular town.
As the film unspools, the friends begin to realize that all is not as it seems in that freaky forest as the appearance of a strange female figure in white heralds the beginning of a supernatural experience they simply are not equipped to handle, while over on the videotape, things begin going rather south for our plucky young homeowner as well. Like all the way south, if you catch my drift. You don’t. Hell, I’m talking about her life becoming a haunted hell, ya dig?
As I’ve said before in this creepy column, I don’t believe that the found-footage genre has run its course. When presented effectively, it serves the same purpose of the goosebump generator that campfire stories and urban legends did in years past. All I ever ask is that the filmmakers present something new to audiences who feel they’ve seen it all. Well, I’m happy to report that AMITYVILLE: NO ESCAPE does just that by way of presenting two found-footage yarns that manage to intertwine as they let the viewer know that the Amityville of this cinematic universe is not a place you’d want to visit anytime soon … or ever.
The biggest boon to the film (besides its genuinely likable cast … always a plus to really care about the folks who may meet their doom before our eerie eyeballs) is the footage on the VHS tape. Experiencing the slow descent into some form of paranormal event while being totally alone is a classic trope, and it’s done effectively here by using uncomplicated scares (again, think those campfire-told terror tales, my creeps) that really get under your skin since you’ve become invested in the strong performance of actress Julia Gomez.
If you are a fan of the franchise (in particular the first flick, natch) or just want to see something fresh in the found-footage fright-flick arena, I urge you to give AMITYVILLE: NO ESCAPE the attention of your putrid peepers. It’s a brisk, traditional terror tale told in a fun and innovative way!