The Amityville Horror Review By Matt Compton
Director: Andrew Douglas
Writer: Scott Kosar, Jay Anson
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Phillip Baker Hall
The remake of the adaptation of the novel based on the “true” story as claimed by the real life Lutz family. Got that? It doesn’t really matter either way in truth as this movie takes a fairly liberal approach to the source material in order to maximise the cinematic value of the story. This turns out to be a smart move as the resulting film is a competent genre flick which though lacking in originality is a lot more fun and entertaining than the serious-but-tedious 1979 original.
Ryan Reynolds (Blade: Trinity, Van Wilder) turns in a solid performance as the Jack Torrance-alike George Lutz with both the menacing intensity and genuine everyguy charm necessary to the role. It would have been nice to see a little more of the good version of George but Reynolds manages to capture audience sympathy in a short amount of time. This means that there is a real emotional reaction to seeing the character degenerating into a vicious brute as he is taken over by the evil in the house.
The film builds up a good atmosphere of looming horror and high tension. Unfortunately it also makes some odd choices with its more supernatural scare scenes however. At several different points in the movie the viewer is shown a ghost/demon/whatever creeping up on one of the characters only for them to turn around and not be able to see it. It just seems that that there is no point in the ghost being there at all, why is it trying to scare these people if they can’t even notice it? At least some of the scarier scenes work though, the baby-sitter trapped in the closet with the dead girl and being forced to finger her bullet-wound is a fun and scary gross-out moment.
It is a sad fact of life that many horror films rely on plot contrivance and unrealistic character behaviour to move the story forward. The Amityville Horror falls victim to this pitfall with people making unbelievable and ridiculous decisions all over the place. The Lutz family stay in the house for far longer than any rational person would given the bountiful evidence that something is seriously amiss there. A priest called in to exorcise the house is attacked by a freakish spontaneous swarm of bees and ghostly malevolent voices order him out though it still takes Kathy Lutz the whole damn movie to bother looking into the history of the house. When she does finally get round to a little research she discovers a whole new plotline tagged on to this film that was absent in the original. It revolves around a crazy witch guy called Reverend Ketchem and his bizarre experiments which mostly involved torturing and killing native Americans. Of course it isn’t too difficult to guess where all this took place… This new explanation for the origin of the evil in the house is founded in a small kernel of truth but is mostly hogwash. It feels very tacked-on and at odds with the general feel of the movie.
The main issue with this film is that there just doesn’t seem to be any real reason to have made it. It does what it does quite well but treads no new ground. There have already been numerous sequels to the original Amityville Horror and though this film is far better than all of them the central story is just too tired and redundant by now.