Movie Reviews 97 – Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

Amityville II: The PossessionIt was the reputed haunting of the Lutz family’s experience in the house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville New York that sparked an international frenzy with the release of the Amityville Horror book in 1977 and then again with the release of the movie in 1979. But that haunting itself was attributed to the atrocities experienced by another family in that very house years earlier. What is indisputable is that in 1974 six members of the DeFeo family were brutally murdered in that house and that the eldest son, Ron DeFeo was charged with the murders. But many of the details in the case remain speculative to this day. Amityville II: The Possession presents a version of the events leading up to the DeFeo family tragedy, which anyone could argue without reproach has always been the real Amityville horror.

But if you thought that this movie was going to be anything but a highly fictionalized view of events you may want to stop right now. To say that some liberties were taken and changes made is an understatement.  Right from the start we’re introduced to the ‘Montelli’ family as they move into the house and in doing so immediately convey their dysfunctional state with an overbearing father and religious zealot of a mother fawning over her children. It appears that it is the teenagers in the family, ‘Sonny’ and Patricia that are the grounded ones.As their mother Dolores attempts to have the local priest bless their new home, the seething father, Anthony, can barely contain his disdain for the church. Sonny and Anthony are constantly at odds, but it’s only after the move that Sonny begins to exhibit peculiar behavior. But it’s all pretty tame stuff at first and evil behaviour that one would normally drama and not so much a horror movie. But then the true creepiness of the movie is revealed as Sonny’s intentions towards his sister turn incestuous and we soon learn after that that Sonny ain’t the only guy in the family that has eyes for young Patricia.

Directed by italian giallo director Damiano Damiani in what appears to be his only Hollywood foray the movie brings some distinct giallo elements and is not just a sub par sequel. The priest’s role is a complicated one wherein one of Patricia’s confessional session troubles the priest while at the same time he fails to come to terms with her plight and her pleas for help. In the end a prohibited and hasty exorcism seems to free Sonny of his demons, but only after the night of terror where he murders the other family members.

The controversy over the accuracy is not as questioned here as much as the Lutz family experiences because of the many changes to obvious facts. But this is not an open and shut case in real life either, the real Ron DeFeo having changed his story of that night’s events many times even sometimes implicating some of the other family members.

I can’t say that the horror really grabbed me here and that fact that so many liberties were taken instead of sticking to the facts was also kind of a letdown. Aside from a few cheap FX and some silliness at the end, there is not too much anomalous horror. But as a drama it’s not a bad movie and it does touch upon a real life tragedy of some interest.

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