The stream of micro-budget pseudo-Amityville pictures became a raging river in 2016. This was, I assume, because smart rip-off artists figured that they'd be able to take advantage of Amityville: The Awakening, which was set to be released at two different occasions that year (and then bright and early in 2017), sadly forgetting the gypsy curse that condemned Amityville: The Awakening to walk the earth for 1000 years before it could finally be screened in North American theaters. At any rate, no fewer than four ultra-cheap Amityville pictures all saw release between April and August of that year.

The first of these was Amityville: Vanishing Point, a film which I take no pleasure in reviewing whatsoever. It's the fourth feature by the prolific, fast-working Dylan Greenberg, who was all of 18 years old when she directed this picture, and even I'm not enough of an asshole to talk potshots at a 18-year-old. Still, the greatest respect one can pay to an adult is to treat them like an adult, and not hold them to some artificial curve where they get extra points for trying. Besides, Greenberg and producer/co-writer/actor Jurgen Azazel Munster (which I presume must be a made-up name; it's too fucking great to not be) made the decision to put Amityville in the title of their film, which is jusitifed by a grand total of three lines of dialogue across the film's 92 minutes, and they surely did that for the increased attention; they also elected to charge money to watch the film. Fair is fair, even to 18-year-olds (particularly 18-year-olds with fathers who were producers of America's Most Wanted and also this movie, as Keith Greenberg was).

Anyways, this hand-wringing exists for one reason and one reason only: Amityville: Vanishing Point is a pretty goddamn rough movie, offering little reward to the curious viewer who puts in the effort to track it down and watch it. Even getting so far as uncovering the plot of the movie takes some concerted effort: in the opening scene, we see a woman stumbling along a fence and into a concrete stairwell, bleeding to death from cut wrists, as the flicking image and even more so the music insists that we're at least half-thinking of Twin Peaks. The dead woman turns out to have lived in a boarding house in Amityville, and her best friends Brigitta (Amanda Flowers) and Bermuda (Mickala McFarlane) and landlady Ms. Ernie (Selena Mars) take it upon themselves to figure out what happened. The other figure investigating the mystery is FBI Agent Hank Denton (Munster), who is clearly not what he says he is, and who has a passion for midcentury baseball cards that borders on religious mania.

And what happens after that? Truly, I cannot entirely say. The film has the very real feeling of a bunch of friends fucking around with a camera, because that's after all what it is. This makes for a film that feels like a collection of assorted stuff - glam rock performances, sex scenes, all of the twitchy scenes with Denton having his odd little freak-outs, and an amount of florid swearing that reminds us more than anything that this was made by a teenager - with no real attempt made at combining it into any singular vision, let alone a coherent story.

On top of which, the film wears its non-budget like a mark of honor. The cinematography gets the worst of it: most of the scenes appear to have been lit by a flashlight taped to the top of the camera, blowing out everything in the foreground and leaving a very visible circle at the edges of the frame where the light falls off. But the sets are pretty chintzy-looking, too, roughly suggesting spaces that don't make sense and can't be immediately "read" as anything. If this was meant to be an experimental film, it might almost feel intentional, but God knows what the experiment is meant to be.

At any rate, it's a soggy drag of a film, too confusing even at the level of who people are and how they came across our paths to be scary. People act threatening, and people look menacing, but I could not tell you why. The actors are uniformly uncomfortable in their line readings, sometimes manifesting in stiff performances and sometimes in wildly unrestrained performances, but never is there a character who feels like an actual person saying actual words, and so there's no real place for us to hook into the action. It's the sloppiest, most inconsequential and messy of the Amityville films, which is saying a terrible large amount about this movie, and none of it good. Points for ambition, and points for being the rare micro-budget film that doesn't have unconscionably shitty sound, but it's a hideous, incoherent experience to watch it, and that's really all that matters.

Reviews in this series
The Amityville Horror (Rosenberg, 1979)
Amityville II: The Possession (Damiani, 1982)
Amityville 3-D (Fleischer, 1983)
Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (Stern, 1989)
The Amityville Curse (Berry, 1990)
Amityville 1992: It's About Time (Randel, 1992)
Amityville: A New Generation (Murlowski, 1993)
Amityville Dollhouse (White, 1996)
The Amityville Horror (Douglas, 2005)
The Amityville Haunting (Meed, 2011)
My Amityville Horror (Walter, 2012)
The Amityville Asylum (Jones, 2013)
The Amityville Playhouse (Walker, 2015)
Amityville: Vanishing Point (Greenberg, 2016)
The Amityville Terror (Angelo, 2016)
Amityville: No Escape (Couto, 2016)
Amityville Exorcism (Polonia, 2017)
Amityville: The Awakening (Khalfoun, 2017)

Not reviewed at this time
Amityville Death House (Polonia, 2015)
The Amityville Legacy (Ferguson and Johnson, 2016)
Amityville: Evil Never Dies (Ferguson, 2017)