It's unlikely that anyone is still seriously taking the AMITYVILLE films for horrific true-life sagas, as they were once marketed. Clearly, the filmmakers behind this latest installment have simply used the franchise to take off on their own supernatural tangents. There is barely any
connection to the previous films, with AMITYVILLE 1992 even being set all the way across the country in California.
The one linking device is a clock from the original Amityville house unwittingly bought by developer Jacob Sterling (Stephen Macht) during a business trip to New York. He brings it home to his family--teenagers Lisa (Megan Ward) and Rusty (Damon Martin), but no wife--and puts it on the mantel,
where, unbeknownst to anyone, it ejects mechanical devices and bolts itself into place. Clearly there's something wrong with this timepiece, and the first to notice is a neighborhood dog, which growls at it one day and then, unprovoked, attacks Jacob the next.
While his father recuperates from the deep bites in his leg, Rusty is startled when the room in which the clock sits seems to transform into a satanic crypt; later, Lisa is mysteriously locked inside the room. Rusty comes to realize that something strange is going on, but can't convince Jacob's
girlfriend Andrea (Shawn Weatherly) that supernatural forces are at work. Soon, however, she encounters a grisly apparition in her bed, but her own suspicions are debunked by her psychiatrist friend Leonard (Jonathan Penner). He also seems to think that Rusty's just going through a phase, and
explains away Jacob's increasingly antisocial behavior in psychological terms.
The one person who believes Rusty is his occultist neighbor, Mrs. Wheeler (Nita Talbot), who realizes that the room he saw was the sacrificial chamber of a centuries-old satanist and ultimately figures out where the clock came from. Eventually, of course, she is killed in a freak truck accident.
Meanwhile, Leonard has a vision in which a jealous Jacob shoots him; the evil force transforms Lisa into a teen sexpot who lures her boyfriend Andy (Dean Cochran) to a horrible death; and Andrea discovers that Jacob's scale model of his housing development has transformed into a landscape of
Leonard is ultimately hanged outside the house, while Andrea and Rusty are trapped inside with the now murderous Jacob. Fending off his attacks, Andrea breaks through the wall behind the clock and discovers enormous springs and gears; as a gas main opens on its own, she lights a spark that blows
the device to pieces. Suddenly, everything reverts back to the day Jacob first arrived home with the clock. But Andrea realizes what is happening and smashes the clock to pieces, stopping the evil cycle from beginning anew.
AMITYVILLE 1992 is based on one of a series of books by John G. Jones, in which the author relates how the original house's evil spread across the country when its furnishings were sold off. As one more attempt to wring some quick profits out of the lingering fascination with this story, the
latest installment benefits from not claiming any basis in reality and, in fact, is one of the best of the six films (including a 1989 TV movie starring Patty Duke) derived from it. The screenplay doesn't do much that's new with the possessed-house basics, but some of the details have been
imaginatively conceived and the film has been directed in a persuasive, comparatively low-key style by Tony Randel (HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II). For the most part, Randel eschews cheap shock effects for the first hour, holding the interest through more mundane scare situations before the
blood-and-thunder final reels.
The idea that the clock existed long before the Amityville house and has been working its evil through the centuries is never really explored, nor is the suggestion that Rusty's awareness of the supernatural presence around him might be connected to his apparent interest in heavy metal. But the
acting and writing of the central characters is just empathetic enough to keep the material plausible in context, though the character of Leonard--the story's obligatory Doubting Thomas--is too overwrought to be convincing, and marks him from the start as eventual cannon fodder for the evil force.
AMITYVILLE 1992 is just scary enough to justify the continuation of the franchise, and just in case anyone had any doubts, a further installment, AMITYVILLE 1993, had already completed principal photography by the onset of its namesake year. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations, nudity.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: It's unlikely that anyone is still seriously taking the AMITYVILLE films for horrific true-life sagas, as they were once marketed. Clearly, the filmmakers behind this latest installment have simply used the franchise to take off on their own supernatural t… (more)