October 20, 2020 The Amityville Harvest (Movie Review)
Sadie Katz and Kyle Lowder star in The Amityville Harvest, which arrives to DVD, Digital, and On Demand on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, thanks to Lionsgate.
Written and directed by Thomas J. Churchill (Check Point 2017, The Day of the Living Dead 2020), the story revolves around an investigative journalism team led by Christina (Katz: Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort 2014, Blood Feast 2016) and her sister Nancy (Alexa Pellerin: Love or Laughs 2019, More Than Just Me series) who travel to the infamous Miller Funeral Home in Amityville to interview its owner, Vincent Miller (Lowder: Days of Our Lives series, Ladies of the Lake mini-series). Inheritor of a lengthy familial legacy, Miller details his ancestor’s connections to Prohibition, the Civil War, and the assassination of President Lincoln, all for a history segment entitled “My Civil War.”
But what should be a simple segment to shoot turns into a nightmare when one of the crew goes missing. To add to their troubles, the audio portions of the interview fail to record, and unbeknownst to the majority of the crew, several of their own are plotting behind their backs. It’s not long before what should have been a simple assignment at an old Victorian home soon becomes a fight for survival.
The Amityville Harvest also features the acting talents of Johanna Rae (The Condo 2015, Apocalypse Rising 2018), Eva Ceja (S.W.A.T. series, Nation’s Fire 2019), George W. Scott (The Last Castle 2001, Sympathy for Delicious 2010), Brandon Alan Smith (Gotham series, Wetware 2018), Michael Cervantes (Clown Fear 2020, Big Freaking Rat 2020), Eileen Dietz (Halloween II 2009, Lake Alice 2018), Keavy Bradley (Flashes – The Director’s Cut 2014, Legacy 2015), Yan Birch (The People Under the Stairs 1991, Eternal Code 2019), Julie Anne Prescott (As Night Falls 2010, Shakespeare’s Sh*tstorm 2020), Paul Logan (Code Red 2013, The Horde 2016), and many more.
For a suburb on the South Shore of Long Island, Amityville sure gets more than its fair share of films. But here’s the thing: though The Amityville Harvest is explicitly billed as “a must-see for Horror fans obsessed with the chilling events that took place in Amityville,” this story literally has zero connection to the franchise, any of its never-ending copycats or, for that matter, Amityville itself. Aside from its supposed setting in the village—it was filmed at the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles—this is a vampire film, not another rehashed look at the DeFeo family.
So what is The Amityville Harvest? An homage to far greater Horror offerings, it shares some base level, conceptual similarities with both 1994’s Interview with the Vampire and 1987’s The Lost Boys, but all of this done on a Ghost Hunters’ budget. Oddly enough, the majority of the blood splatter is CGI, though practical effects would have suited the premise much better. Either way, the kills are still mundane, and there are some cliche audio and visual effects added—as well as sprayed on gray hair for Lowder—that only detract from the film’s quality instead of adding to it.
While the screenplay does incorporate some nods to the director’s influences (particularly a scene that’s very reminiscent of 1980’s The Shining), it unfortunately never fully decides what it wants to be; it’s not funny, far from frightening, and lacks action to keep viewers engaged. There are some very unfortunate choices made, as well, particularly in regards to Scott’s Ottis, a black Southerner who meets his demise at the hands of a pair of Confederate soldiers. It’s this lack of forethought, as well as disappointing solutions, that leave the film floundering, barely able to hold its viewers for its 92 minute runtime.
Easy to passively watch while you’re doing other things, there is no real mystery or genius here, as from the very first few minutes we already know what Christina and co. do not: Vincent has fangs. As the characters are never developed beyond their jobs, it just makes it that much easier to tune out and confuse Cervantes’ annoying Scratch with Smith’s cocky Cosmo, because they’re both equally useless. Rae’s Janet is given almost nothing to work with, save for being hearing impaired, while Pellerin’s Nancy is the little sister who “does it all,” likable, but just as flat as the other characters. Luckily for Ceja, she gets to play the literal ‘scream queen,’ even if she’s not the final girl.
Which basically means that almost the entire cast is cannon fodder, save for the film’s star, Katz. While many TV journalists utterly lack in approachability, and seemingly have no desire to be remotely congenial, Katz does an excellent job with Christina, creating an on-air personality who is pleasant. Bringing the enthusiasm back into historical reporting, she is the woman who attempts to keep her crew happy and on target, all while showing her interview subject respect. Even if he is a blood-sucking vampire.
So, yes, The Amityville Harvest is misleadingly-titled to cash in on the endless Amityville craze. In truth, this is a D-grade vampire flick full of undeveloped characters who experience banal deaths. Sure, if you love Horror and enjoy feasting on new material, then by all means, allow yourself to visually reap this harvest. But keep your expectations low and do not expect much in the way of paranormal activity. For this, Cryptic Rock gives The Amityville Harvest 3 of 5 stars.