The Amityville Horror (2005)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
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Overall Rating 55%
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Connections: The Amityville Horror

In December 1975, George and Kathy Lutz along with their three children move into an elegant Long Island house. What they don't know is that the house was the site of a horrific mass murder a year before. They decide to keep the house and attempt to keep the horror in the past, but are now haunted by a murderous presence. This is until, George starts to behave weirdly and their daughter, Chelsea starts to see people. What follows is 28 days of sheer, unbridled terror for the family with demonic visions of the dead. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: June 22, 2005
Horror films are difficult to remake. The originals have usually amassed a considerable cult following, and directors just seemed to make them better in the 1970's and 1980's. "Dawn of the Dead" turned out to be a nice exception to the rule -- an amazingly entertaining remake that came close to topping the original -- it was fast, it was stylish, and it was scary as hell. Recently, Japanese remakes have been the craze, with "The Ring 2", "The Grudge", and the forthcoming "Dark Water" -- but that formula is getting extremely tired...there is only so much you can do with something like that. "The Amityville Horror" is going for the same thing as the "Dawn of the Dead" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remakes, trying to stick with the winning formula of the original, while crafting a few more scares and a little more depth to the story. After seeing "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" a couple of years ago, I never would have guessed I would be praising a film starring Ryan Reynolds.

The first words we see on the screen are 'based on the true story'. The only problem -- this is as much of a true story as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". This is more like a seedling of fact, hit with layer upon layer of supernatural fright. Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George star as George Kathy Lutz, recently married and ready to purchase their first home together. George is Kathy's second husband and her three children are still getting to use to him being in their lives. When the couple stumble upon a gorgeous three-story Victorian home in upstate New York, they cannot believe their eyes -- George is a contractor and knows that the house is worth far more than what it is being sold for. They buy the house, even after being told by the real estate agent that the previous family had been murdered in the home. Why should anything like that detour your desire for a bargain? So, the family moves in, and almost immediately begin coming face-to-face with the history of the house. George starts hearing voices and slowly begins to lose his grip on reality. The youngest girl starts playing with an imaginary friend name Jodie, which also happens to be the name of the young girl who was murdered in the house. Day after day, George gets angrier and more bizarre, prompting Kathy to pay a visit to the local priest (Philip Baker Hall). Then...bring forth the ending...

Comparing this remake to the original is not a wise idea. The original "The Amityville Horror" was all about the simple scares -- floorboards creaking, shadows drifting, and James Brolin's eyes. We didn't always seen what was happening, but we knew it was evil and scary as hell. The remake is the exact opposite. Like "Dawn of the Dead", this film is faster, flashier, and scarier than the original -- the house is seen as a living, breathing entity, and the script even goes so far as to add some back story to the house, giving us a little insight into why the house is as possessed as it seems to be. And, it makes sense -- since when is an Indian burial ground a good thing, especially when those Indians were also tortured and mutilated? I never knew what was going to happen next in this film, and that is pretty incredible when you consider the film is a remake. Sure, the whole 'creepy little kid' thing is getting played out, but there was something different about Jodie -- she was just plain terrifying to look at. Andrew Douglas managed to do the near impossible -- he made a remake that is better than the original...by leaps and bounds.

Who knew that Ryan Reynolds could act? Not me. After "Blade: Trinity", I had all but given up on him. With "The Amityville Horror", he manages to pull his weight and do exactly what James Brolin did in the original -- show the gradual transformation from all around good guy to all around son-of-a-bitch. Take, for example, the scene in which he is forcing his eldest step-son to hold the pieces of wood as he swings the axe down with little regard for the child's safety. That scene was a nice addition. Also, consider the scenes between he and Melissa George, when she is pleading for them to leave the house. Look at his eyes, and his facial expressions -- he really worked this part. As for Melissa George, she does well vamping up the whole blubbering wife routine, but I think this role would have been much better played by someone like Rachel Weisz or Kate Hudson. Philip Baker Hall also fills the shoes of the great Rod Steiger, as the priest who cannot bare to return to the house. The fact that this new script gives the wife and the priest a chance to meet and talk adds some depth to the story -- that was missed in the original.

In summation, "The Amityville Horror" is far better than the minimalistic original, and scared the hell out of me on several occasions. This film was far creepier and more disturbing than the trailer gave it credit for. Ryan Reynolds acts his ass off, and the house itself takes over as the star of the film -- which is just what we needed in the original. This is one of those films you should try and catch at the drive-in theatre, late at night, with a car full of friends -- it offers genuine scares that a lot of horror films just forget about, opting instead to go for the whole 'Japanese horror' type scares. Those get old...these have gotten old. "The Amityville Horror" was the best horror film I have seen in 2005, and turned out to be better than "The Ring", "The Grudge", or the most recent horror addition, "Boogeyman". It just plain rocked. I thought so, and you will too. FOOTNOTE: Many of our loyal readers have asked -- how could you enjoy a film like this so much? For starters, I was doped up on oxycodone the night I went to see this film; and, secondly, I really needed some dumb entertainment. I liked this film for the same reason I like "Congo" and "Cliffhanger".

Deadwired2 #1: Deadwired2 - added 07/03/2005, 06:31 AM
This movie really disappointed me. *Spoiler*

I wanted that chubby fat kid DEAD.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 01/12/2006, 03:04 PM
The new Dawn of the Dead was nowhere near the original
Dametria #3: Dametria - added 04/24/2007, 12:03 PM
I thought the original sucked. This one redeemed it a little
danimigra #4: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 05:56 PM
i like this one... pretty scaring... anought to a 6/10... i agree with that.
Bliss From A Dead Embrace #5: Bliss From A Dead Embrace - added 01/30/2009, 02:06 AM
I live 20 minutes from where this happened. Not very scary. A family member of mine served time with the nut this movie was based on and he told him he did it because of drugs. Movie sucks no matter how you put it. 4/10.
Griffinheart #6: Griffinheart - added 10/05/2009, 08:02 PM
Wow, this has to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Nothing scary and only a few scenes that even came close to creepy. I'm tempted to snap the disc in half and report it to Netflix as "broken". 4/10
Tristan #7: Tristan - added 10/05/2009, 08:56 PM
One of the worst movies you've ever seen warrants a 4/10?
Nirrad #8: Nirrad - added 10/05/2009, 09:02 PM
This movie is better than the original in my valid opinion.
Griffinheart #9: Griffinheart - added 10/06/2009, 08:09 PM
I've only seen one movie that's worth less than a 4/10 and that movie is in Chad's possession now, I believe. I've never seen the original AH. Is it worth picking up?
Crispy #10: Crispy - added 10/06/2009, 11:40 PM
Not by a long shot. Never saw the remake, but the original was awful.
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