AMITYVILLE ISLAND (2020)

Amityville Island.jpg

Studio:      Wild Eye Releasing
Director:    Mark Polonia
Writer:      John Oak Dalton
Producer:  Rob Hauschild
Stars:     Danielle Donahue, Jamie Morgan, Jeff Kirkendall, James Carolus, Titus Himmelberger, Steve Diasparra, Timothy Hatch, Marie DeLorenzo, Yolie Canales, Wyatt Wood, Cassandra Hayes

Review Score:

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Summary:

Two prison inmates connected to the Amityville curse are sent to an island for a secret experiment conducted by a sinister scientist.


Synopsis:     

Review:

The only review anyone needs for ¡°Amityville Island¡± is this succinct headline from an Amazon user: ¡°It¡¯s a Polonia movie. You know what you¡¯re getting and you have no one to blame but yourself.¡±

Now, maybe the name Mark Polonia doesn¡¯t mean anything to you. That¡¯s fine. Probably preferable even. The first minute of the movie will tell you exactly what you¡¯re in for should you foolishly choose to stay for the remaining 67. It¡¯ll just take 60 seconds to see the same red flags that the director¡¯s name instantly waves at longtime Z-movie aficionados.

¡°Amityville Island¡± starts with two glowing red dots, demon eyes one would presume, roughly superimposed over B-roll of lapping waves. After a sudden distributor logo, a single blip of blood drops in slow motion into a tiny crimson pool on a white background. Next comes the production company¡¯s graphic.

You know what, I was mistaken about the movie needing 60 seconds to warn you it¡¯s terrible. We¡¯re only 30 seconds in and ¡°Polonia Bros. Entertainment¡± doesn¡¯t even fit cleanly inside the circle of stars surrounding the text. When no one can be bothered to reduce a font by one point before rendering, you have a pretty fair idea of the kind of shoulder shrugging sloppiness we¡¯re dealing with here.

Now back to a montage of incoherent codswallop including a screaming face lit under the chin by a flashlight, a bullet hole in what looks like glass maybe, some blurry flash no human eyes could possibly make out, red smears around a mouth wearing vampire teeth from a 1960s Cracker Jack box, a green flash, black nothingness, and finally a few random clouds.

Scratching your scalp yet? Wait until ¡°Amityville Island¡± throws together an underground women¡¯s prison fight club, an island where two zombies sport latex Halloween masks whose unglued edges flap on their necks, a possessed brown bear who mauls a prison guard, a possessed shark who mauls another, and an alcoholic journalist who seems to have been spliced in from a completely unrelated movie. This may sound crazily cool in concept. It¡¯s not so sweet when it¡¯s all jankily edited together with stock footage and the film asks you to find a story somewhere inside the mess.

What¡¯s this? A house with quarter-moon windows? Oh man, I bet the filmmakers flipped when that six-second clip found its way into their laps somehow. Bonus points for getting one thing right!

That¡¯s literally the only detail ¡°Amityville Island¡± does get remotely right though. Everything else is a red-faced boondoggle. A ¡°prison¡± is just someone¡¯s cellar. The inmate transfer vehicle is a red Ford Escape. A strip mall dentist office is supposed to be a secret experiment laboratory. ¡°Amityville Island¡± is so obliviously inept, it features a needless shower scene where a woman keeps her towel on, as if no one has any idea that the sole purpose of such a segment is strictly to stuff in pandering T&A.

Except, I¡¯m not really sure how oblivious ¡°Amityville Island¡± actually is. See, Mark Polonia appears to be a proud purveyor of shot-on-video schlock. Previous projects include titles like ¡°Peter Rottentail,¡± ¡°Sharkenstein,¡± ¡°Revolt of the Empire of the Apes,¡± and ¡°Bride of the Werewolf.¡± His whole brand is homemade hackiness purposely populated by people so green, Kermit the Frog envies their tans.

Honestly, Polonia may have a genuine gift for spotting amateur actors who are naturally wooden. Or, in a more likely possibility, his friends, family, his chiropractor, mailman, or whatever neighborhood grocery baggers agree to do these larks are just terrible performers. Most of them obviously have no higher acting ambitions because they¡¯ve only ever appeared in other Mark Polonia movies.

I just can¡¯t tell how ¡°in on it¡± Polonia is to his signature gimmick. For instance, some of the piss poor props include liquor bottles with handwritten labels crudely cut out by scissors. They feature in repeated close-ups however, so Polonia not only isn¡¯t trying to hide their shagginess, he¡¯s highlighting it.

Maybe he deliberately wants to fashion himself like another Tommy Wiseau. Maybe it comes naturally. Maybe there¡¯s a peculiar sort of genius to this bumbling buffoonery, and that¡¯s why I¡¯m unable to figure out what the hell he¡¯s doing.

No matter what, Polonia never stages anything with an unmistakable wink to tell the audience he realizes how bad everything looks. There¡¯s no Batman ¡¯66 ¡°Biff!¡± or Dr. Smith monologue to intentionally amp up camp. Line deliveries are awkwardly goofy for sure, but scenes play seriously, making for a truly dumbfounding experience where you witness everyone pretending like they¡¯re in a Steven Spielberg epic even though they¡¯re working with an Ed Wood aesthetic. ¡°Amityville Island¡± is all natural ham.

This is my second (and hopefully last) Mark Polonia joint, with the first being his equally bedraggled ¡°Amityville Exorcism.¡± Looking back at that review (here), I probably took the movie too sincerely, not realizing exactly what sort of backyard weirdness a Polonia project entails. My handle on it is still slippery, affirming I don¡¯t have the right humor for this weapons-grade piffle to tantalize my ¡°so bad, it¡¯s entertaining¡± tastes.

Which leads me to wonder, who are these movies for? Better yet, what are they for? Is there an odd fan cult that follows these films? Does the cast and crew make a living off of them? No one can possibly be getting rich. They¡¯re not even getting recognition, not the kind anyone should want anyway. ¡°Amityville Island¡± was a free rental on Amazon Prime when I screened it. Are people watching it often enough out of drunken irony that two pennies of royalties per viewing are adding up to that much money?

Maybe I just answered my own musing. I mean, ¡°Amityville Island¡± looks like it was made for less than I spend on lunch at Taco Bell, and I say that without any hyperbole. I suppose it only takes a handful of rentals to turn a profit then. That¡¯s a Polonia movie for you, I guess. Now that you know what you¡¯re getting, as that Amazon reviewer said, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Review Score: 15