This is part of my Horrorathon for Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (aka MASK). Is It Worth It? is where I talk about sequels a lot of people skip, and determine if they are worth a visit or better left in the bargain bin. Fair warning, there will be spoilers in my recap, so if you just want the verdict skip to the bottom.
From IMDb: Jacob Sterling brings home a mysterious clock from the infamous Amityville house, not knowing that it’s haunted by demonic spirits.
A haunted object from Amityville makes its way to California to reek havoc on an unsuspecting family? Isn’t this the exact plot of Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes? Why yes it is – only this time we get to swap a haunted lamp for a haunted clock, and a Made for TV film for a direct to video production.
Amityville 1992: It’s About Time (that is truly the original title) is based on the same short story collection as the fourth film, which features the Lutz families’ haunted belongings being sold off after the flee the cursed house.
Unlike the fourth film, the direct to video element means a noticeable uptick in sex and gore. It lacks the almost family friendly vibe of the fourth film.
Is a haunted clock more creepy than a haunted lamp? Let’s find out.
The movie starts with a low angle shot of someone walking past a decorative water fountain in a housing development called Burlwood Estates. There are palm trees so presumably this takes place in California. This is already quite disconcerting. Is it even an Amityville movie without establishing shots of the infamous house with windows that look like eyes?
An older woman in a floppy pink hat sees a house with windows that could be construed as eyes, and a well-dressed man is seen walking up to the front door of said house with a box. The lady seems to be concerned as she looks at the house, and this new house gets overlaid with the Amityville house because the filmmakers really want to make sure you get that this is the “new” Amityville!
Jake is the well-dressed business man returning home from a trip to New York where he acquired a one of a kind antique clock from “one of the houses” they tore down for a new housing development.
He is greeted at the door by his wife? Babysitter? Nanny? Her name is Andrea. And his two teenage children Rusty and Lisa.
Later when they are alone Jake condescends Andrea when she mentions being in grad school. We find out Andrea is his ex-girlfriend, and that Rusty and Lisa’s mom died years earlier. Andrea and Jake eventually broke up, and she is fearful of getting the kids attached to her as a surrogate mom as they were previously. After some cajoling, Jacob seduces Andrea in a surprisingly explicit and sweaty sex scene.
The haunted clock begins secretly drilling itself into the fireplace mantel it is displayed on. Up late listening to music and being an edgy teenager, Rusty has a strange vision of the front room changing into a medieval setting. Move over haunted lamp from Amityville 4!
He reacts the way most of us would in this situation:
But the room changes back to normal so Rusty goes to bed.
The next morning, a way too peppy Jake leaves for a bizarrely paced jog full of random extras and establishing shots. I thought for a moment the movie was setting up a Groundhog Day/Happy Death Day like time loop, but no. He’s just jogging.
During this run that seems to end in the middle of nowhere, Jake turns to find his neighbor Mrs. Tetmann and her German Shepherd Peaches. Mrs. Tetmann seems to be in a trance, and lets Peaches attack Jake. Peaches basically rips his leg off before he manages to fight back long enough to escape.
Andrea picks Jake up from the hospital, with the doctor mentioning she may need to help him take care of the wound. Andrea reluctantly decides to stay with Jake a big longer to help him out, despite reminding him she is in a new relationship with a man named Leonard. We’ll get to Leonard later.
At school, Rusty is hanging out with one half of Jay and Silent Bob before he ditches class like the edgelord he is.
But there is a twist! Rusty is a closet nerd, and is secretly ditching class to hang out and play chess with Mrs. Wheeler, the older woman from the beginning of the movie who had a vision of the infamous Amityville house when looking at Rusty’s house. He tells her about the weird room he saw, and she mentions the clock must trust him since it revealed its powers to him. She also asserts that it is probably “not the devil” but instead “the real deal” (whatever that means), and probably came to his house to escape danger. Mrs. Wheeler has seemingly clocked the evil clock.
Rusty and Andrea visit Mrs. Tetmann to check on her and Peaches after Jake’s attack, but Mrs. Tetmann says she has no idea what they are talking about. She also shows them that Peaches is fine, unscathed despite Jake having cut the dog with a broken bottle in self defense.
Rusty returns home and goes through a time loop, leaving a room while talking to Andrea only to return to the same room and finding out hours had somehow passed. Meanwhile Lisa gets locked in the room with the clock, and a black goo figure appears in bed with Andrea. Jake also seems increasingly unstable as he works on his housing development project for Amityville.
Down the street, Mrs. Tetmann finds Peaches’s head in a bucket. And the next morning, a Black couple that lives across the street has a swastika painted on their garage. Andrea goes out to grab the newspaper, and notices the neighbors pointing at her. And if there is a bad time to have people pointing at you, it is definitely when a hate crime just occured.
The neighbors and police believe it must be Rusty because he dresses in all black and wears an earring, but without evidence they cannot hold him.
Leonard (Andrea’s other love interest) stops by the house with wine and takeout. This guy is clearly already a better option than Jake even pre-dogbite possession or whatever Jake is going through. There is some understandable tension between Leonard and Jake as well as Leonard and Rusty. Jake and Rusty are possessive of “their turf”, and Leonard is a bit of a know-it-all. But Leonard is also more attractive than Jake so there’s also that.
While eating dinner together, Leonard hypothesizes that Jake has purposely created a situation to try and lure Andrea back into a relationship with him.
Their romantic (I guess?) dinner is interrupted when they notice a fire on the side of the house. Someone has set the next door neighbor’s overgrown hedges on fire, and once again Rusty stands accused but there’s no evidence against him.
In part to reassure Leonard of her interest, Andrea and him have sex. For those keeping score at home, this means Andrea has had sex with both Jake and Leonard over the course of a couple days.
In one of the better scenes, Leonard has a post-coital vision of Jake threatening him with a gun. And this is really when the movie starts to go off the rails.
After Leonard’s hallucination, the clock strikes one step closer to “Spook a Clock” (TM) as we see a moon image click one step closer to a devil face on the face of the clock. Because that doesn’t seem ominous at all.
Lisa is sleeping in the room with the clock (since Andrea is sleeping in her room), and wakes up in the middle of the night. She looks at herself in the mirror, and her reflection starts moving out of sync with her which is one of my favorite tropes as I mentioned when discussing Poltergeist III. Except in Lisa’s case, her reflection starts…flirting with her?
There is no other way to describe what happens next: Lisa’s reflection has sex with her. Like reaches out from the mirror and has sex with her. It is really disturbing to see this scene knowing the character is meant to be a teenage girl since it definitely has a male gaze vibe to it with some needlessly prolonged takes. Adding to the creepy atmosphere, the sound design incorporates the ticking haunted clock and a repetitive, industrial sound that is reminiscent of Silent Hill.
Afterwards some chocolate syrup that I think is supposed to look like evil black goo gets splattered on the mirror. It really just looks like a crew member squeezed Hershey syrup on there which just goes to show you if you can’t do a needless effect well, consider not doing it at all.
The next morning, Lisa is now a certified Bad Girl thanks to her sexual awakening with herself. She even grabs an apple for breakfast because this young lady is ready for some metaphorical forbidden knowledge.
Mrs. Wheeler figures out through her research that the clock was owned by a French man in the 15th century who killed and ate children in hopes of obtaining immortality. She later connects it to the infamous Amityville house. But like many priests before her, when she goes to warn Rusty about the clock’s dark past she is thwarted.
Rusty is brought in for questioning after the police find him trespassing in Mrs. Wheeler’s house. Meanwhile, Jake is not doing so hot, and we get the return of the flies! But these ones don’t seem evil – they are just after Jake’s disgusting trove of food plates.
When Andrea sees the state Jake is in, she tries to call the doctor and he attacks her. She manages to knock him out, and Leonard comes over. Together, they tie Jake to the bed and sedate him while allegedly waiting for medical transport? I’m really confused as to their strategy here.
Lisa brings her boyfriend Andy home and lures him down to the basement. And then she lets him sink down a burning storm drain to die. Props to the special effects team for this absolutely disgusting death scene. I really like how it balances creepiness, grossness, and silliness in the same few minutes.
Soon after, Andy’s decomposed goo body drips through the bathtub faucet into Leonard’s bath. Andy’s body then reconstitutes itself and attacks a naked, shocked Leonard.
Andrea hears Leonard’s shouts and finds him naked and cowering, but the apparition of Andy is gone. Like the bathtub scene in The Amityville Curse, I really appreciate the gender swap in this situation. It is rare to see a “hysterical” naked man trying to convince a woman he was just attacked by a supernatural force. And even though Leonard isn’t the most likable character, this scene and his attack aren’t played for laughs.
Andrea goes into Jake’s workspace, and discovers the entire housing development model he has been working on is all tiny Amityville houses, with one containing a personalized touch – all their names on tombstones and a dead Leonard. She also sees a swastika painted on one of the miniatures, and realizes Jake has been behind everything the whole time.
Andrea is freaked out but realizes she needs to move fast. She goes to Jake’s bedroom and discovers he has escaped. She realizes the phones have been disabled, and hears the sound of something large thumping against the outside window. Sure enough, Jake has made good on his miniature and hung Leonard. RIP to the cuter of the two boys.
Andrea runs into Rusty, and together they try to escape but the doors to the outside won’t open. Hearing Lisa crying, Rusty runs after her. He finds her cowering in his room which is now covered in bloody handprints.
She keeps saying how horrible “it” is, and when he asks what she means she says the fact that he is her brother. That’s right, Amityville 6 is also bringing back the icky sibling incest from Amityville II.
Rusty is much less receptive to this proposal than the sister in the second film, and eventually kills Lisa in self defense by sticking a live amp in her mouth.
Police arrive outside the house after getting a distress call, but the clock’s powers make it so they can’t hear or see Andrea banging on the other side of the glass.
Andrea is then attacked by a fully possessed Jake. Rusty comes downstairs and tries to intervene, but Jake knocks him out. When Rusty comes to, he tries to rush Jake again but the clock…does this?
Andrea finally manages to kill Jake, and discovers the clock has deaged Rusty so he is a toddler again.
She gets Rusty safely out the house before she grabs a weapon and tells the haunted clock “it’s time.” The clock is not going to waste anytime (pun intended!) fighting back with that kind of smack talk.
She tries to attack the clock and discovers the clock’s gears and mechanisms have grown into the wall like an infestation. The clock does not appreciate her smack talk, and decides to rapidly age her.
But Andrea persists and manages to blow the whole house up? I guess we are supposed to assume there is an open gas leak or something?
Suddenly everything seems normal again. Andrea is the correct age, and she is just sitting in the front room of the house. She hears the doorbell ring, and we finally get our Happy Death Day loop after all! Jake is at the door, coming home from his business trip in New York just as he did at the beginning of the movie. Only this time, Andrea remembers everything. So she does what we would all do in this situation.
Andrea doesn’t stop there though. After destroying the haunted clock, she grabs her bag an walks out the door. When Jake asks her what it’s all about, she speaks her truth by citing the movie’s subtitle.
In the last few moments of the movie, Rusty and Mrs. Wheeler make eye contact and he knowingly shouts out to her “pure evil!” as a throwback to how he described the clock to her previously, indicating they have also retained some memories from what happened.
- I was pleasantly surprised by Andrea leaving Jake. Jake seemed like he was positioned to be a “likeable ass” at the start of the film. I expected them to reconcile at some point so it felt like a real win when she left at the end.
- I think the haunted clock is introduced better in this film than the haunted lamp was in the fourth film. The haunted lamp was presented like we were supposed to know about it already – this feels like it just happened to be yet another evil knick knack from the Amityville house.
- This movie seems to implicitly retcon the history of the Amityville house by implying this ancient clock and the 15th century necromancer it belonged to were at least a contributing factor in the hauntings in Long Island.
- This film does not feature any Catholicism which also makes it and the third one pretty unique in that regard. Between Mrs. Wheeler asserting the clock is not the devil, and the possessed Jake saying it is not about heaven or hell, it has an agnostic bend. I wonder if that will shape future entries.
- The inconsistent powers of the evil spirit hit a new time high in this film. The clock can seemingly possess people and manipulate time dramatically. How on earth could this clock truly be defeated?
- I noticed the house had a definite 90s McMansion hell design vibe. Sure enough, the bad design and decoration was allegedly intentional according to IMDb: Director Tony Randel and production designer Kim Hix designed the interior of the main house to be an intentionally unpleasant, off-putting, nightmarish caricature of a suburban home.
I like the way Andrea was written in this film a lot, and I think it would be worth a watch if you want to see a well-written final woman. It is a pretty silly movie, but it seems to know it is silly so it doesn’t veer into awesomely bad territory the same way previous entries do. And I think if you squint your eyes and think real hard about its messaging regarding time as a resource, it has some interesting themes about the ways we can get stuck in our own self-created time loops of monotony and self-destruction. Which is a pretty on brand message during COVID-19.
Next up is Amityville: A New Generation. Yet another direct to video entry.