In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves.
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. Based on the true story of George and Kathy Lutz, The Amityville Horror remains one of the most horrifying haunted house stories ever told - because it actually happened. Written by
A year after the DeFeo family is slaughtered wholesale by a rifle-loving father, a new family -- the Lutzes -- move in. Soon, the family feels an eerie presence in the house and George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) -- the new dad -- begins to change.
The movie overall is a respectable one. The mood is very nice, the New York Times rightfully called it "a modest improvement over the original", and I freely admit there were moments I was on edge thinking something nasty was going to come popping out, a feeling I very rarely have anymore after seeing so many "scary movies". So all in all they did something right. One scene in particular, where something is in the ceiling (I couldn't quite make it out) was creepy, and the dead girl in the window was unsettling. I also take a little pride knowing the film was shot in Wisconsin (in the towns of Salem and Silver Lake, near Kenosha).
Someone commented that this was very much a Ryan Reynolds fetish film, having him taking up almost all the scenes. More specifically, it's a Ryan Reynolds chopping wood fetish film. He is in 85% of the shots and in many of those he is chopping wood. And why is his shirt constantly off? Yes, I see those pecs and abs, Ryan... I know you were in that "Blade" movie... but come on, you were also in "Van Wilder"... you're not a threat.
Melissa George (Kathy Lutz) on the other hand did not take her shirt off enough, and when she did the camera was positioned in such convenient ways. Was this film PG-13? I don't believe it was, so why tease the audience like that? By the way, George's performance was the weakest of the entire cast, even the children. Some people have commented on how she is a TV actress, and I agree this might have something to do with it. (For a better Melissa George film, see "Triangle".)
Another reviewer complained that Kathy didn't remove her children fast enough when George began turning violent. I disagree. The family has been together a while, George has been nothing but loving and supportive (I mean, geez, he bought her a house). The whole film takes place in about a week, as far as I can tell. The man deserves a few days of blowing off steam.
What's the deal with the babysitter (Rachel Nichols)? She shows up looking like a prostitute and then talks seductively to a little boy. This was very confusing for me. I don't mind... and actually, I really liked her character, but it was still odd.
My friend warned me about the babysitter in the closet scene, which he said was the creepiest thing he saw since "In the Mouth of Madness". Well, I think ITMOM was John Carpenter's best film (even more than "The Thing", "They Live" and "Prince of Darkness") but it never scared me. The closet scene had me on edge -- but only because he had me convinced it was going to be awful. Really, the scene was nothing out of the ordinary. (You'll have to see for yourself what happens, maybe you'll be grossed out more than I was.)
There were many "Wicked Little Things" connections, which is a slam on WLT. If you read my review for that film, you'll see I complained about how unoriginal it was. After seeing "Amityville Horror", I can add so many more instances. Both films star Chloe Moretz (the Dakota Fanning of horror). Both have her with an "imaginary friend" that is a dead girl. Both inform their mothers they won't be hurt. Both carry disfigured dolls previously owned by the dead friend. So, um, for the guys who made "Wicked Little Things" -- if you were gonna rip off "Amityville Horror", why didn't you at least bother to get a new actress? The producers do say on the commentary that "she was amazing" and I appreciate that Chloe was singled out.
I didn't expect much from this one, hearing it was nothing special and many saying it was monotonous. Well, I liked it. I think it all went together very well, and they do a fine job of explaining the backstory, which is something many horror films fail miserably at. (I don't recall if the original explains it as well, but I'm willing to bet it doesn't). By remake standards, better than average. By movie standards, not bad. I stamp it with my seal of approval.
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