Director/Screenplay/Producer – Andrew Jones, Photography – Victoria Rodway, Music – Andrew J. Jones, Makeup Effects – Harriet Rogers, Production Design – John Andrews. Production Company – North Bank Entertainment/Amityville Asylum Films.
Sophia Del Pizzo (Lisa Templeton), Lee Bane (Delaney), Jared Morgan (Dr Elliot Mixter), Paul Kelleher (Hardcastle), Eileen Daly (Sadie Krenwinkle), Kenton Hall (Pemberton), Ina Marie Smith (Nancy Dennison), Alan Humphreys (Jerry Kimble), Matthew Batte (Dennis Palmer), Judith Haley (Mrs Hardesty), Sarah Louise Madison (Allison DeFeo)
Lisa Templeton applies for and obtains a job as a janitor at the High Hopes psychiatric hospital. She is introduced to Ward X that houses patients that are regarded as criminally insane. On the job, she begins to see spooky apparitions of a young girl and a patient who is reported as being dead. She learns that High Hopes was built on the site of the demolished house at 112 Ocean Avenue, the infamous Amityville House where Ronald DeFeo murdered his family in 1974 and before that was the site of an Indian massacre. She comes to believe that Sadie Krenwinkle, one of the patients on Ward X, imprisoned for Satanic sacrifices, is orchestrating thirteen murders that will allow her to become immortal. However, trying to alert people to these things then has her locked up as insane by the asylum’s head.
The Amityville Horror (1979) was a reasonable hit when it came out, gaining a certain fascination with the public due to its claim to be based on a true incident (something that was later revealed to be a hoax). This led to a number of sequels and other films that bore increasingly little connection to the original, least of all its claims to be true. These include Amityville II: The Possession (1982), Amityville 3-D (1983), Amityville: The Evil Escapes (1989), The Amityville Curse (1989), Amityville 1992: It’s About Time (1992), Amityville: A New Generation (1993), Amityville: Dollhouse (1996), The Amityville Haunting (2011) , Amityville Death House (2015), Amityville Playhouse (2015), The Amityville Legacy (2016), Amityville: No Escape (2016), Amityville Terror (2016), Amityville: Vanishing Point (2016), Amityville Exorcism (2017), Amityville: The Awakening (2017), The Amityville Murders (2018), The Dawn (2019), Amityville Island (2020) and Witches of Amityville Academy (2020), as well as the official remake The Amityville Horror (2005).
Many of these are not even made by the same company as the original – given that Amityville is a real town, it becomes difficult for the filmmakers to make any exclusive claim to copyright on the title. The Amityville Asylum, for instance, is not even an American film and was shot by a British production company with a predominantly British cast pretending to be American. The greatest point of connection this has to the original is its claim that the titular asylum was built on the site of the demolished Amityville house (which in real life still stands), while the opening scenes give us a potted recount of the Ronald DeFeo murders. (It should be said that this is more semblance to the ‘facts’ than most of the other Amityville sequels, which are often merely based around artefacts taken from the Amityville house).
It is frequently obvious that The Amityville Asylum is being conducted on a low-budget. For instance, the entire asylum – one that has a whole wing of criminally insane patients who have been convicted as multiple murders – seems to be staffed by no more than three orderlies, no nurses and a single doctor. I know many psychiatric facilities are underfunded and cutting back on staff but this seems to be taking things to ridiculous lengths.
Amid other implausbilities is the way that an absurd number of supernatural happenings seems to accrue around only one girl who, when she brings this to the attention of the head doctor, is instantly committed to the institution (without even a hearing of any kind – in most places to be committed, you at least have to be demonstrating clear evidence of harm to self or others and be placed before a judge). This then thrusts The Amityville Asylum into the company of a bunch of other films such as Committed (1991) and Gothika (2003) about psychiatric staff who find themselves committed into their own asylums.
Director Andrew Jones serves up a dull range of illusions, ghostly appearances and a cheerful British-accented killer but fails to deliver anything particularly scary. The film is well cinematographically composed and lit but the lack of decent budget shows through in the clear economy of sets. The cheapness of the budget becomes particularly evident at the climax that fails to find anything scary in the scenes of Sophia Del Pizzo being pursued through the asylum by a shotgun-wielding maniac. The film leaves several irritating loose ends – it is never clear why the job was set up solely to select Sophia Del Pizzo, for instance. It also ends without ever revealing the identity of Patient X, who one thought would have had a much bigger role in the film or, given the prologue, would be revealed to be Ronald DeFeo himself.
Andrew Jones had previously directed two troubled teen films with Teenage Wasteland (2006) and The Feral Generation (2007) and subsequently stayed in horror with The Midnight Horror Show (2014), Valley of the Witch (2014), A Haunting at the Rectory (2015), The Last House on Cemetery Lane (2015), Poltergeist Activity (2015), Robert the Doll (2015), The Curse of Robert the Doll (2016), The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund (2016), Cabin 28 (2017), The Toymaker (2017), Werewolves of the Third Reich (2017), Jurassic Predator (2018), The Legend of Halloween Jack (2018), The Legend of Robert the Doll (2018), Bundy and the Green River Killer (2018), The Curse of Halloween Jack (2019), The Manson Family Massacre (2019), Robert Reborn (2019), The Utah Cabin Murders (2019), The Haunting of Margam Castle (2020), The Jonestown Haunting (2020) and A Killer Next Door (2020). He has also produced and written Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection (2012), Silent Night: The Homecoming (2013) and Kill Kane (2016).