Is It Worth It? Amityville Dollhouse (1996)

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.

Amityville Dollhouse (Video 1996) - IMDb

From IMDb: A children’s doll house, which is a miniature of the infamous haunted Long Island house, is given to a young girl where the demonic evil soon comes out to cause more terror.

Yet again, a haunted object from Amityville finds it way into an unsuspecting family’s home in California.

The tone of this film aligns much more closely with the fourth film as it features a family with small children. It is also like the fourth film because its movie poster is repurposed from the fourth one:

A still from the fourth film vs. cover art from the seventh that doesn’t even bother to take the lamp out of the image OR reorient her to be looking at the tiny dollhouse stand-in

Recap:

We start with an exterior establishing shot of…you guessed it…a DOLLHOUSE of the the infamous house with windows that looked like eyes. We also get some establishing interior shots of the dollhouse including a creepy lil voodoo doll family I’m sure will only bring happiness and joy to whoever takes possession of said dollhouse.

Play with us Danny

But just like previous films in this subset, this movie is really about a family in California. In this case, a newly blended family is moving into a newly built home that appears to be in the middle of the desert.

The family includes Bill, his teenage son Todd, and his young daughter Jessica…

…moving in with Claire and her preteen son Jimmy.

Let me just make this clear right from the get go – Jimmy is the absolute worst. It’s especially frustrating because at least with annoying teenage characters in horror films, you know they will die. But with annoying kids, you know they WON’T die.

Jimmy is a little jerk to his seemingly great stepdad and jockey teenage stepbrother. He is so mean to Todd that Todd later tells his dad “I used to eat kids like that for breakfast. Once a geek always a geek.”

He makes this assertion while holding a football because of course he does.

Bill tells Todd to give future Ben Shapiro knockoff Jimmy some time. Meanwhile, the house alludes to its supernatural powers by…secretly turning an electric fireplace off by itself.

I can already tell we are in for quite the intense haunting with that scare.

Bill discovers an abandoned dollhouse in a shed, and conveniently doesn’t notice the helpful newspaper clipping posted right behind it on the wall.

Bill moves the dollhouse into the garage, and that night the family wakes up covered in sweat. He goes downstairs to see if he can adjust the temperature, but before he does notices what appears to be a person hiding just out of sight at the first floor landing. I have to say I actually really liked this little scare.

But any spooky visions and HVAC issues are pushed aside the next day for Jessica’s birthday celebration. The dollhouse sabotages her real gift, a new bicycle, and the parents decide to gift her the dollhouse instead. Also, Aunt Marla and Uncle Tobias are dropped into the movie straight from central edgy hippie casting.

Todd once again tries to bond with his new younger brother Jimmy, but once again Willard-in-Training rebuffs him for no good reason.

Todd decides to play a little prank on the arachnophobic Jimmy by putting a fake spider into a pinata and rigging the game so Jimmy will knock the pinata open and the spider will fall on him. But what comes out of the pinata is a real spider, giving us a brief moment of schadenfreude.

Our hero Todd is immediately grounded, and Jessica gets a fever. Aunt Marla and Uncle Tobias immediately suspect an evil force is at work.

Later, Creepy Jimmy’s pet mouse wanders into the dollhouse, and somehow becomes extra large and lodges itself under Jessica’s bed.

Jessica has had better birthdays

Todd rushes in when he hears Jessica screaming and accidently smooshes the real mouse, causing the giant one to disappear and for Jimmy to have a meltdown thinking Todd killed his pet mouse on purpose.

Jimmy gets a visit from the obvious;y evil zombie corpse of his dead father, and is bizarrely NOT phased by his horrific appearance or ominous suggestion they “deal” with the rest of the family.

Dafaq is wrong with you Jimmy

We are treated to a surprisingly explicit sex scene between Bill and Claire but with a spooky twist. Claire is staring at a spooky picture of her stepson Todd that makes her inappropriately horny for her teenage stepson.

Dafaq is wrong with you Claire?!

As Bill, Todd, and Jessica begin to regret blending families with Claire and Jimmy, Todd gets a visit from his girlfriend Denise. They try to get busy in the shed where Bill found the dollhouse, but a wasp FLIES INTO TODD’S EAR and presumably his brain based on the sound design. It has to be dug out with pliers.

The next day, Todd plays basketball by himself for hours because I guess that is what teenage boys do for fun when their house is in the middle of nowhere? Meanwhile Aunt Marla asks Jessica to begin writing down anything odd the dollhouse does.

Claire decides to gratuitously touch herself thinking about Todd. It is clear from the method and framing that a man wrote and directed the scene. She gets freaked out when she actually sees an apparition of Todd and decides to go out to dinner with Bill. At this point Claire’s attraction to Todd ceases to exist.

Like an average movie teenager, Todd interprets watching his siblings while the parents go out as an opportunity to put them to bed insanely early and drink with his girlfriend instead. Todd and Denise hangout by the fireplace we saw earlier. Denise decides to let her long hair down and sit directly in front of the fire, and the evil spirit decides to light her ass up while Todd is busy making terrible frozen margaritas.

Denise is rushed to the hospital, and Todd yells at his father, blaming him because it is all “you and your gas lines fault!” (sic).

Across town, Aunt Marla and Uncle Tobia seem to run an occult shop together (ala the Magic Shop in Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Complete with neon upside down pentagram

They are attempting to contact the evil spirit in the dollhouse via one of the voodoo dolls. And this little guy is PISSED

This gif might be the best thing that came out of me watching this movie. I love how he crosses his legs all proper and everything.

A bookshelf gets knocked over on Marla and she dies? Or suffers a concussion? Always a great film when you literally can’t tell if a character died or not. With her maybe dying breath, she tells Tobias to go save her brother and his family.

Meanwhile, Jimmy’s zombie dad visits him again and hits him this time. Bill rushes in the room when he hears the commotion, and tries to fend off the zombie dad. But the zombie dad hides, leading Claire to believe Bill hit Jimmy. Claire immediately kicks Bill out which means zombie dad has taken over this house.

Luckily Tobias shows up to help save the day, helping Bill get back in the house and extricating Claire, Jimmy, and Todd from the house in the process. Jessica is now trapped in the dollhouse world which is accessed through the fireplace – something Tobias refers to as “the welcome mat to hell.”

Bill and Tobias jump into the fire and find Jessica being attacked by the full grown versions of the demons that apparently live in the voodoo dolls. Tobias explains the voodoo dolls were husks for small demons who are now full-sized demons because they are all in the dollhouse.

Huge missed opportunity to call this movie Amityville: Honey I Shrunk the Demons

Tobias sacrifices himself so his brother-in-law and niece can escape, yelling “YOU BASTARDS” in a way that would make Kyle from South Park proud right before definitely getting killed by a demon. Unlike his wife who he may have just left to die from a concussion under a bookshelf.

Bill puts the dollhouse into the fireplace and the house explodes into flames as the family escapes (sadly with Jimmy intact as well). One of the demons lets out a silent Darth Vader “NOOOOOOO” as it dies.

We are then treated to two minutes almost completely dedicated to watching the house explode in slow motion before also watching the dollhouse explode in slow motion even though the dollhouse is inside the house so wouldn’t it have already exploded at that point? Two minutes may not seem like a long time, but let me assure you this felt like an eternity. But at least the budget went somewhere.

Random Observations:

  • This completes the bizarre subset of Amityville movies dedicated to haunted objects traveling to California!
  • Why is the dollhouse a miniature of the Amityville house? Why is it in that house in the middle of nowhere California? No one knows. Don’t ask reasonable questions.
  • There’s also a weird subplot about Bill’s nightmares where a ginger boy is nailing his feet to the floor. Why did I not mention it till now? Because it doesn’t matter.
  • No Catholic priests saving the day is now the norm in the franchise, but this entry goes so far as to show people involved in occult practices successfully helping fend off the demons. A pretty significant change from the heroic Catholic priests of the earlier films.
  • Also no evil or mundane flies! Although the wasps undoubtedly serve as a much more frightening substitute.
  • Joins the third film as one of the only two in the series that don’t involve a character getting possessed. Arguably Claire seems possessed regarding her sexual attraction to Todd, but that is a stretch compared to the murderous possessions of all the other films.
  • Another odd thing about this one is how it involves multiple demons. How did they get shrunk? Why are they in a dollhouse? So many unanswered questions.

Verdict:

No From Me Dawg GIFs | Tenor

This movie feels like a regression in many regards for the series. It’s like it tries to have some of the wholesomeness of the fourth film mixed with the edgy humor and gore of the sixth and fails at both. As I’ve said before you just can’t start a haunted object series with a lamp. It is all going to be downhill after you try to make a lamp evil, and kill it by throwing it out a window.

Also this movie just seemed confused. It sets up a subplot with Claire’s attraction to Todd, dedicates multiple scenes to it, and then the subplot vanishes. Ditto for Jimmy’s zombie dad going from an aberration only Jimmy sees to one of the main villians by the end.

We’ve finally made it to the original Amityville Horror remake! Despite a pretty abysmal score on Rotten Tomatoes, I actually remember liking this the first and only time I watched it. Hopefully I will feel the same this time around.

One thought on “Is It Worth It? Amityville Dollhouse (1996)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s