For the sixth installment, the Amityville series is back in California, as in Amityville: The Evil Escapes ("Amityville 4"). This time, Jacob Sterling (Stephen Macht), a single father and an architect, brings the "Amityville Curse" home with him by way of a possessed clock that he picked up on a business trip to Amityville. The fact that the clock is the source of the burgeoning evil our cast of characters encounters is one that they don't really figure out for themselves until near the end of the film, but it's not a spoiler to reveal that to readers, because it's clear from the very first scene that the clock means trouble. So this is one of those films where the audience will be egging characters on to figure out something that the audience already knows, and which it often seems the characters should more easily discern.
Director Tony Randel seems to have chosen the setting of the film to invite associations with the Poltergeist series. The suburban neighborhood of Amityville 1992: It's About Time, or "Amityville 6", looks very similar to the neighborhood in Poltergeist; for all I can remember of Poltergeist at the moment, it may very well be the same location. But it doesn't matter if it isn't, the desire is still there to latch on to same kinds of archetypes, so that evil invades generic U.S. suburbia, with the hope of making the fears more relatable and immediate for the audience. That's not the only film reference that Randel makes. One of the odder and more enjoyable ones, for which I still haven't figured out the symbolism, is a fairly literal quoting of Ed Wood's famous footage of Bela Lugosi in front of Lugosi's home, walking out of the front door with a black cape on (of course), and slowly going over to smell a flower. Wood shot the footage without a specific use in mind. It ended up in Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). Randel recreates the scene (minus the flower in a direct way) with Iris Wheeler (Nita Talbot), one of the more interesting, although a bit underused, elements of Amityville 6. The appropriately named Iris is something of a "seer". She has visions of evil invading the Sterling household almost immediately. Later on, she functions as a plot facilitator in a number of useful ways--she provides a link to a more esoteric, supernatural world while simultaneously anchoring, catalyzing and supporting our more grounded/realistic characters' mounting beliefs, she provides important historical information, and she is the first to be dispatched by the evil presence. Her death scene manages to be amusingly ironic, and maybe even a bit absurd, but without bringing the film into a humorous mode; it veers towards but doesn't quite visit campiness, as do many subsequent events.
The twisted relationship dynamics in the film are particularly interesting. Jacob returns from his trip to Amityville to greet his children and Andrea Livingston (Shawn Weatherly), a former live-in lover who was watching the kids. Jacob quickly reinitiates their physical relationship, but Andrea makes no bones about wanting to get back to her boyfriend, Dr. Leonard Stafford (Jonathan Penner). Jacob suggests that Andrea have Leonard stay at the house, and eventually, this does happen. Meanwhile, Jacob is supernaturally devolving into a George Lutz-styled monster, from the same forces that got to George, but Jacob is also physically transforming--or deteriorating more accurately--in a more literal way. There is complex love triangle material between the three throughout much of the film, and Randel executes most of it so it works on two levels--as a straightforward but twisted soap opera and as horror with a strong psychological edge. This is reflected in Leonard's job--he's a psychiatrist, and appropriate to one of the popular stereotypes about psychiatrists, Leonard is the character who falls apart psychologically in response to the Amityville curse.
The Amityville force has often been about unhinging deeply suppressed "dark" feelings and desires in its victims. That works as a catalyst for the twisted relationship dynamics, including between Jacob's kids, Rusty (Damon Martin) and Lisa (Megan Ward). Lisa is the one with more hedonistic suppressed desires, which might seem surprising given the initial character development of the two kids, but on the other hand, Rusty is more outwardly expressive from the beginning, so maybe it's not so surprising after all.
The more purely supernatural aspects of Amityville 6 are both a bit understated and charming in their own way. As suggested by the subtitle, "It's About Time", time and especially time manipulation provides the theme for much of the supernatural material. This enables characters to be placed in alternate realities and it gives Randel and his writers another way to explore elements of characters' subconscious minds, including their fears, of course. Maybe more could have been done to work the time theme into the film in various surrealistic ways, as when that material occurs, it's certainly one of the films' strengths, but the decision to take a subtler track and stay closer to soap-operatic realism wasn't a bad one.