Part of our infrequent series detailing the top five greatest ever haunted house movies.
Amityville II: The Possession (1982) Dir: Damiano Damiani
Everybody’s favourite haunted house movie franchise is back! The sequel (or rather prequel) to 1979’s The Amityville Horror recounts the story of what happened to the original family who moved into the real life New York house. Built on a site of an Indian Burial ground the family start having strange occurrences round the house, nothing to get too alarmed about – every new house has it’s faults. The real problems start happening when the oldest son, Sonny starts to hear voices through his Walkman leading to him possession by an unnamed demon. All good stuff!
The film was helmed by Italian Exploitationer Damiano Damiani, usually at home with Spaghetti Westerns or Euro-cop thrillers which seems an odd choice but what he brings is that Italian style that makes the film feel a lot more raw and certainly a lot more close to the bone that the original Hollywood film. The film centres more around Sonny and his relationship with the spirit than it does the house and it’s grip over the family but this leads to a more interesting dynamic held together by Jack Magner who plays Sonny, strangely he only had one other bit part in 1984’s Firestarter after this.
The film looks nowhere near as slick as the 79 version and jump out of your seat scares are few and far between but the impending sense of dread as the family unit begins to disintegrate is nail tearing stuff. Where the film loses pace is three quarters through where we get into the legal ramblings of why Sonny did what he did but what we have to consider is this is based on an actual case and to leave out the follow up to the incident would seem inappropriate (no matter how far stretched the truth is).
A lot of people would argue that the original film is a superior film and it is true to an extent, certainly technically and narratively but all good haunted house films should suck you in and ratchet up the tension rather than opting for cheap I Know what you did Last Summer scares, in this case Amityville II stands head and shoulders above it’s counterparts.