Amityville Harvest (2020) by Nowal Massari

As a paranormal investigator, and true crime junkie, the Amityville case has always been
a personal favorite of mine. I remember being absolutely terrified of the demonic voices and
Lalo Schifrin’s score in the first two films, and my bones were further chilled when I discovered
the movies were based on true events. Because of my exposure as a kid, I was compelled to
watch every single film in the Amityville-verse, and much to my dismay, they strayed further
from the source material as the number of sequels climbed. Eventually, the Amityville moniker
was just thrown onto a movie in the hopes of gaining attention, and unfortunately, Amityville
Harvest is no different.
The movie opens in a funeral home at the wake of a man named Robbie. A young
woman, who we eventually learn is named Lana, stands beside Robbie’s open casket and tells
him how much he’s going to be missed. I’m still not 100% certain on what their relationship to
each other is, to be honest. In the end, it doesn’t matter, which I’ll get back to. Anyhow, Lana
head to the bathroom before following the crowd to the cemetery, and after collecting her phone
from the toilet (we’ve all been there) she heads back into the main parlor and realizes that she’s
been locked inside. Starting to get a little panicked, she bangs on the window in an attempt to get
someone’s attention, but no one seems to hear or see her. Growing frantic, Lana yells louder,
when the hearse driver looks her way. Instead of coming to her rescue, he nods and smiles
creepily at the Lana doppelgänger that is standing next to him outside. At this juncture, Lana
knows something is seriously wrong and that she’s not leaving Millers Funeral Home any time
soon. She turns back towards the main entryway and is confronted by Robbie’s ghost, who asks
Lana to stay with him forever. She looks in another doorway and sees another male ghost, or
maybe it’s Robbie? We’ll never know for sure! Lana continues to whimper while Robbie
requests her eternal presence, and in a predictable move, a weak jump scare is thrown at viewers
as a means of segueing into the credits. I’ve only been watching this for about 7 minutes and I
feel…prepared. For what, I can’t say.
This flick likes to introduce characters without naming them right away, or really giving
you much story to go off of. It’s kind of like coming into a show a couple episodes in; you’re not
quite sure what’s going on, but you figure it out eventually. What we learn after the opening
scene is that film maker Christina is getting ready to interview Vincent Miller, (played by Days
of Our Lives veteran Kyle Lowder), owner of Millers Funeral Home, about his family ties to the
Civil War for a segment in her upcoming documentary. Christina, along with her younger sister
Nancy, makeup artist Janet, sound guy “Scratch” and camera crew Cosmo, Lexy and Ottis, arrive
at the old Victorian manor turned funeral parlor to have dinner and settle in for the night. Greeted
by Mr. Millers elderly assistant, Mrs. O’Brian, the group enter the house and you can
immediately tell which member will be the first to die. Spoilers: It’s Ottis, the single Black
character.
During a very awkward dinner, the incredibly pale and ominous Vincent Miller, who I’m
fairly certain is a vampire, tells his guests the history of the home. It was originally an
orphanage, which became a haven for bootleggers, who used the tunnels under the house to run
hooch far and wide. That is, until the whole thing caught fire and killed everyone inside. After
this event, the Miller family turned the home into a funeral parlor. Convenient! Miller only has 2
rules for everyone: the basement and main funeral parlor are off limits. Yeah, ok friend.
After dinner with, the gang splits up in order to prep for the following evenings interview.
It seems a bit weird that they’ve arrived a full day before they intend on interviewing Miller, but
alright. Ottis heads outside to smoke and utters quite possibly the best line of the movie: “What
is up with white people and spices?!” In a vain attempt to find cell service, Ottis sees a couple of
costumed Civil War re-enactors wandering in the yard. But this is a horror movie. They’re never
re-enactors. Never ever.
In the night, members of the crew see and hear weird things, in addition to having some
nightmares. The next day as they’re setting up, it’s revealed that Cosmo and Lexy are intending
to go behind Christina’s back and film their own documentary. They’ve even been in contact
with a network! Shady as hell. Eventually we learn that Cosmo is convinced that Miller had
something to do with Lana’s disappearance, but we never find out why or what his connection to
the missing girl is. It’s fine. This is a theme, and I am adapting.
During Christina’s interview, Miller reveals that his great grandfather, Dr. Vincent J.
Miller, was the mastermind behind Lincoln’s assassination plot and he allegedly used James
Wilkes Booth as his patsy. Unfortunately, Dr. Miller never got the recognition that his great
grandson felt he had earned, and was using Christina’s documentary as a way to get the word out
there. Unfortunately, no audio or visual footage of Vincent seemed to get captured during the 3
hour interview. He informs the crew that their equipment was fine, it’s just his curse. Oh, right.
Obviously.
As characters in horror movies are wont to do, Miller’s rule of not going into the
basement is broken and let me tell you, it does not end well at all. Cosmo manages to call a cop
friend of his, insisting that he and his partner come to the house right away, because he claims to
have proof that Miller is definitely behind Lana’s disappearance. As it does, things go quickly
south for the double crossing duo of Cosmo and Lexy. Although there is a very hilarious
encounter with a bloody doctor character. I know it was meant to be scary, but sir…who told you
to move like an orangutan? That was a very bad note.
Things aren’t any better in the rest of the house, and my earlier assumption was correct;
Miller has been a vampire all along! One by one, the documentary crew drop like flies, until it’s
just Christina and Nancy left in the house. Will they make it out alive or will they become
vampires? Or possibly ghosts? Or whatever else this movie decides to throw in the mix? The
answer is no.
The only thing in the movie that connects it to the original Amityville, albeit very loosely,
is the fact that it takes place in the cozy Long Island village. Which isn’t revealed until well into
the movie. The SFX are lackluster, with bloody Dollar Store body parts scattered around certain
scenes. Kyle Lowder is aged in a way that looks like it was applied by a talented high schooler,
though some of the prosthetics are actually quite good. The score is decent, but by no means does
it garner the deeply unsettling feeling of Lalo Schrifrin’s original pieces. The story starts
nowhere and gets a WHOLE lot of story in random bursts, making it feel like you’ve missed
something along the way. You haven’t. It’s unintentionally disjointed throughout the film, which
is a big let down, because the story that eventually unfolds had the potential to be decent. There
is a lot acting…though I can’t say whether performances were over or underacted, because it
didn’t feel like either? It almost felt as if the finished product was actually a run through because
choices were made that maybe should have been corrected and another take used. Lookin’
directly at you, Dr. Basement-Primate-Guy. If you’re expecting anything to be resolved at the
end of all this…let go of that right now.
Overall, this is just a very predictable movie that happens AT you. If you’ve got the time
to kill, sure give it a watch. You may even like it! But if you’re like me, you’ll be bored because
you’ve figured out all 3 plot points almost immediately. I give it 1.5 out of 5 teeth, because
there’s truly no reason for the Amityville name, and it should be a standalone movie. It gains a
half tooth because you can tell everyone worked really hard on this and I used to watch Days of
Our Lives religiously.

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