Monday, March 05, 2012


After the Asian Horror Invasion of the last ten years or so it's understandable that you might look at the DVD cover for THE HAUNTING OF AMELIA – complete with the image of a ghostly girl ominously staring through thick hair falling over her face – and think, "Score, horror movie!"

And you will have just been horribly misled. And once you see the PG-13 rating emblazoned on the box you'll know for sure. There's a dearth of horror here, and romance, though these seem to be the genres for which the filmmakers aimed. But this is really more a coming-of-age drama with a supernatural bent.

If the maudlin adult contemporary songs don't send you running, there's a story here. Rusty (Chad Lindberg) returns for a high school reunion after a decade away. Meanwhile, his friend Josh (Brendan Fehr) stayed behind, unmotivated and traumatized, shuffling through a semi-catatonic life. While Rusty tires to spark a little fire into him, Josh remains paralyzed by memories of his high school girlfriend who died in a train accident.

When Amelia (Tania Raymonde) – a dead ringer for his old flame – shows up, Josh starts to come around a little. She applies for a job at the diner where he works, but really seems to be there mostly as an impossibly lovely and engaging option for this awkward, silent, shuffler of a man. In real life, men who lurk in rundown houses and obsessively walk the tracks instead of living their lives do not tend to meet women of Amelia's caliber.

Weirdly cast, AMELIA features the perfect-as-always Shirley Knight, a steady Sam Robards, and a diner-owning medium played surprisingly well by MAD TV's Stephnie Weir. LOST's Raymonde and Fehr – best known for time served on ROSWELL – make for an engaging pair, if not an involving romantic plotline. A weirder subplot, involving the niece of Weir's character trying to seduce a nurse into euthanizing her uncle, is shoehorned in as gracefully as the filmmakers can muster, but the fit is awkward. It all comes together in a low-budget but fair-looking, shot-on-video way.

There's a point about 16 minutes into the running time when I think I've predicted the twists of the story based on a little dialogue and just a few cues. I'd guess it means I've seen too many movies and too many episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. By the 33-minute mark I was certain what lay ahead and if you haven't figured out THE HAUNTING OF AMELIA by then, let us know and we'll assign you some movie homework. (That's kinder than saying "you're thick as a plank".)

It's all fairly obvious, to the point that I think they changed the title from THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS because it was too much of a giveaway.

Perhaps the new twist ending should be no twist at all? – Jay Kulpa

THE HAUNTING OF AMELIA is available for purchase and streaming at Amazon.

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