(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Amityville: It’s About Time
Where You Can Stream It: Shudder
The Pitch: An old clock that was once in the Amityville Horror house and used in a room where children were sacrificed in a Satanic ritual ends up in California, where it proceeds to wreak havoc on the life of an architect, his girlfriend, and his kids.
Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: For years I avoided watching Amityville: It’s About Time, because I thought, “There is zero chance that movie is good.” Hell, I don’t even like the original Amityville Horror, and knowing this sequel was about a haunted clock just seemed like a truly dumb idea. So color me surprised when I gave this thing a shot over the weekend and found it to be…kind of awesome? Yes, it’s very silly. Yes, the plot makes almost no sense. And yet…
In 1975, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into a house on 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, located on Long Island, New York. Now, depending on who you ask, the Lutz family were either tormented by evil demonic forces or they made everything up to sell a book. In either case, the legend of The Amityville Horror was born, spawning a plethora of movies, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with the original story.
And one of those sequels that has nothing to do with the original story is Amityville: It’s About Time, the sixth entry in the franchise. Directed by Tony Randel (Hellbound: Hellraiser II), the famous Amityville house doesn’t really even factor into this film. Instead, a clock from the house is purchased by architect Jacob Sterling (Stephen Macht), who takes it home to California and shows it off to his on-again/off-again girlfriend Andrea Livingston (Shawn Weatherly) and his two kids – innocent Lisa (Megan Ward) and bad boy Rusty (Damon Martin). We know Rusty is bad news because he’s always dressed in black and watching the same rock-and-roll music video over and over again in his messy room. Radical!
Anyway, the clock is cursed, or something. I don’t know for sure. All I know is that weird shit starts to happen. Jacob gets attacked by a dog, and the dog leaves a hideous wound on Jacob’s leg. Over the course of the film, the wound festers and pulsates, spewing goo and puss, and all sorts of nasty bits. That’s the thing about It’s About Time: it’s kind of nasty. And that’s part of the fun. This is an icky movie, with lots of gross-out stuff to make you uncomfortable and a little confused. In a lot of ways, it feels like Randel is channeling Italian horror here – like the work of Lucio Fulci. The type of horror where style is more important than logic, and everything feels like a fever dream.
Over the course of the film, several weird things happen. The clock has the power to transform the room it’s in. The clock also has the power to make people hallucinate stuff – at one point Lisa sees an evil doppelganger of herself in a mirror, and the doppelganger proceeds to, uh, seduce her (yes). This event turns the real Lisa evil, and she proceeds to lure her boyfriend into a big black puddle of goo that melts him (I’m assuming Under the Skin stole that idea from this film, but I could be wrong). Meanwhile, as weird stuff happens in the neighborhood – someone spraypaints a HUGE swastika on the house across the street – everyone thinks bad rock-and-roll boy Rusty is to blame. Rusty, meanwhile, is friends with elderly neighbor Iris Wheeler (Nita Talbot), who somehow knows exactly what’s going on, because of course she does. And I haven’t even gotten to the part where the clock spins its hands backward and turns one of the characters into a baby.
Chaotic and full of all sorts of gooey nonsense, Amityville: It’s About Time is probably the best entry in the entire Amityville series just because it’s trying something different instead of the standard haunted house idea. Then again, it’s not the only film to focus on a cursed object that leaves the house. Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes is about a haunted/cursed lamp. But that’s a story for another day.
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September 15, 2020