The Amityville Curse (2023) Review
The Amityville Curse seemed to bear a couple of its own curses. It’s an Amityville knockoff and after Amityville Cult, Amityville Thanksgiving, Amityville in the Hood, and so many more, it’s pretty much a guarantee of mediocrity. Secondly, it’s a Tubi Original, which usually carries a very similar guarantee.
But there were a couple of reasons to be hopeful as well. Director Éric Tessier may not be well known outside of Quebec but his adaptions of two of Patrick Senécal’s novels, 5150 Elm’s Way and more importantly, Sur le Seuil aka Evil Words, are both excellent. Dennis Heaton wrote the film, based on the novel by the late Hans Holzer. Heaton you may recall wrote the Billy Connolly zom-com Fido. Not a lot to get my hopes up, as they haven’t done much of note since, but it’s certainly more than most similar films had going for them.
Described not as a remake of the 1990 film but as “a modern reimagining of the novel”, The Amityville Curse opens with a woman putting an envelope on the mantle before hanging herself. As the chair kicks itself out from under her, the envelope takes off under its own power as well.
The house gets bought by a group of friends Lucy, (Jenny Raven, Designated Survivor, Woodland Grey), Frank (Dillon Casey, Burned by Love, Valemont), Debbie (Vanessa Smythe, The Expanse, The Basement), Billie (Mercedes Morris, Slasher, Super Detention), Abigail (Tommie-Amber Pirie, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, The Go-Getters) and Marv (Michael Xavier, Letters to Satan Claus, Shazam!). They plan to live in it while they renovate it, turning it into a trio of condos and making a nice profit.
Right from the start mirrors fall off the wall, a toaster falls into a sink full of dishes, a box moves itself into someone’s path, etc. But they’re too busy agonizing over things like whether Abigail, who is involved with Frank, is still after her ex Marv whose now with Debbie, to let that bother them. At least not until immediately after one of them says they wish the house was haunted, one of the group comes crashing through a second-floor window to their death.
For the first half hour, The Amityville Curse is distinctly low-key with just a couple of jump scares to offset the usual cliches. To their credit, Tessier and Heaton never let things become boring, but it’s not anything special either. They do try and pick up the pace after the first death, first Kenny Wong (Terror Train, Slaxx) makes an appearance as a paranormal podcaster that is entertaining if short. Then Brendan Fehr’s (Wander, The Commando) parapsychologist stirs things up with an attempted seance.
But there’s too much filler such as Ennis Esmer (Children Ruin Everything, Clara) as the hapless Reverend Marion and downright unbelievable behaviour, the endless bickering between the two women over Marv even as their friends are dying, surrounding it for the film to ever really get out of first gear. There aren’t even any cool effects to help out, just a few ghosts that actually look like video glitches and a bit of blood.
To be fair the original version of The Amityville Curse, which is also on Tubi, is a dull and unmemorable affair that even Kim Coates couldn’t breathe any life into., so this is hardly a case of desecrating a classic. But it is disheartening that they couldn’t improve on it either, it’s not like the bar was set very high and the material certainly had the potential to be an entertainingly trashy film in the style of Amityville: The Possession.
In the end, The Amityville Curse does manage to be better than many of the recent Amityville films, but when the competition is the likes of Amityville Christmas Vacation that’s not saying much. It’s also better than several other Tubi Originals. But if you can’t make a better film than Tow you may want to rethink your choice of career. And if you don’t feel cursed yet, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles that may do the trick.