6 March 2010 | Muldwych
A Welcome Improvement
'It's About Time' rehashes a concept last seen in 'Amityville IV: The Evil Escapes', in that an artifact from the infamous Long Island house is relocated into the home of another family, where it soon begins to take over their lives with its demonic intentions. Hardly surprising, given that John G. Jones was the scribe for both installments.
This, I have to say, is the better attempt, and it goes a long way towards rebuilding the damage done by the painful and indeed execrable 5th film, 'The Amityville Curse'. This time around, the artifact is a clock, and its hellish influence not only possesses both the house and its occupants (naturally), but plays around with time itself, breathing at long last some new ideas into the franchise. The tension is reasonably well-paced, allowing for a gradual build until all hell breaks loose.
At the same time however, 'Amityville 1992' still suffers from a fairly silly and uneven storyline, aggravated by sloppy editing choices that prevent the overall effort from meshing together seamlessly. Add to this some rather hammy acting from veteran performers Steven Macht and Nita Talbot, along with some just plain bloody awful acting from Jonathan Penner, and it becomes difficult to take the film seriously. Thankfully the principal lead is Shawn Weatherly, who avoids the obvious temptation the script offers to go over-the-top and gives a creditable performance under the circumstances, as does Damon Martin, in what looks to be his final film.
Nonetheless, 'It's About Time' makes a far better effort to remember its roots than its two predecessors. With minimal rewrites, IV and V could very easily just be standalone horror flicks, but the plot of VI rests upon the apparently again-destroyed Amityville house's past history. On the one hand, it has no conscious ties to the DeFeo murders, but in the universe of the film franchise, these were supposed to be influenced by the house's long-present demonic incumbents, and it is here where 'It's About Time' builds its story. In the process, it grafts yet another unnecessary centuries-old European explanation for its dark history which I didn't really buy into, but I can let it slide since new ground is being explored. After all, I also have to put aside the obvious fact that if this clock has been in the house all along, why does it only manifest its powers now? Yet this is the most interesting aspect of the film, and if anything, Jones should have really let fly with the time distortion element and tried harder to pull it together into what could have been an even better and possibly mind-bending tale.
At any rate, 'It's About Time' pulls the franchise out of the mire that the previous installment dumped it into. It's still fairly silly, but a great improvement nonetheless.