Ohio filmmaker Henrique Couto is a favorite of Daily Grindhouse, for his tireless work ethic and his love of movies. Over the last few years, he’s made a romantic comedy, a family Christmas movie, and even a Western(!), but he first came to the attention of many fans of independent cinema through his horror films. On Friday, August 5th, Couto’s latest horror feature will have its world premiere at the By-Jo Theatre in Germantown, Ohio. AMITYVILLE: NO ESCAPE is a “found footage” horror movie that follows two parallel stories. In modern day, a group of college kids go to Amityville to camp out in the woods near an infamous haunted house for a study of fear. One of the students tracks down a copy of an infamous home video that supposedly proves the existence of a haunting in the house.
This sounds like a pretty familiar setup, but the film does something unexpected. The 1997 segments of the film are shown as home videos made Lina (Julia Gomez), the young woman who moved into the home while her husband was deployed overseas in the military. Lina’s video is a diary of her attempts to fix up the house before her husband returns from his tour of duty, and Gomez delivers a fantastic performance. She previously had a supporting role in Couto’s CALAMITY JANE’S REVENGE, but this is her first starring role. She’s fantastic and immediately endearing with her cheerful demeanor and bright smile, and the time spent building her character pays off as the supernatural weirdness in the house ramps up. Her impressive one-woman show alone makes the film worth a look.
The modern-day segments are a little more familiar. George (Josh Miller) enlists his girlfriend Sarah (Joni Durian), older sister Elizabeth (Alison Egan), cameraman Simon (Michael William Ralston), and “hippie” Lisa (Alia Gabrielle Eckhardt) to join him on an overnight camping trip to the Amityville area to talk about what scares them most. Durian has been in several of Couto’s films as well as films by Ohio-based Dustin Wayde Mills, and turns in a typically great performance. The real standouts here are Egan (star of Mills’s HER NAME WAS TORMENT and others) making her debut in a Couto film and Eckhardt, who appeared in his romantic comedy MAKING OUT. They lend their characters some real personality instead of just being screaming punching bags like many characters in “found footage” horror movies.
AMITYVILLE: NO ESCAPE will be playing at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday, August 5th at the By-Jo Theatre in Germantown, Ohio. Tickets are $10 and no one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian—the film is unrated, but would likely be rated “R” for nudity and language. Couto, as well as much of the cast and crew, will be at the screenings, which are sure to be a blast!
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