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The Amityville Horror
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The Amityville Horror More at IMDbPro »

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37 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

On the fence

7/10
Author: brent_hankins from United States
16 April 2005

If you completely ignore anything and everything that has to do with the Amityville stories, then this is a pretty decent horror flick. Ryan Reynolds turns in a very effective performance, reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." By the end of the flick, i was scared of the dude. The rest of the cast was solid, as well. Lots of scares throughout the film, but a little too much of the "MTV style" editing, especially in the last fifteen minutes or so. But all in all, a decent effort, just like i said.

HOWEVER.

If you're going into this expecting any resemblance WHATSOEVER to the book, the original film, or any of the stories told over the years, you're going to be severely disappointed. The filmmakers have pretty much left out the events that transpired in the novel and the previous film, and instead they take an extreme amount of liberty with the story and turn it into a series of stylized Hollywood scare tactics. Don't get me wrong, this is still effective, but if you're going to release a movie and promote it as "Based on the True Story" then you might wanna make sure that the movie at least RESEMBLES the original story.

In fact, George Lutz is currently in litigation with MGM films over the content of the movie, claiming that it shows his family in a potentially damaging light. When you see the flick, you'll understand why he's upset. I can't fault the guy.

If they had left the Amityville name off of this one and just released it as some generic haunted house movie, then i wouldn't have so many issues with it. But to even associate it with anything Amityville-related just seems wrong to me, because they have completely screwed it up. I would still recommend the film, and just caution potential viewers to forget everything you've ever seen or heard about Amityville. Otherwise you'll walk out of that theater just as annoyed as i was.

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61 out of 94 people found the following review useful:

Decent enough for Amityville and haunted house film fans, otherwise approach with caution

8/10
Author: Brandt Sponseller from New York City
25 April 2005

A remake of the film by the same name from 1979, which was based on Jay Anson's book about a supposedly "true" haunting, Amityville Horror begins in familiar territory by showing us Ronald DeFeo, Jr. (Brendan Donaldson) murdering his family. A year later, newlyweds George (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy Lutz (Melissa George), with three kids from her previous marriage in tow, buy the vacant house at a steal, although they hesitate a bit once they learn why it's so cheap. Strange occurrences begin not long after they settle in. George becomes increasingly impatient and hostile, daughter Chelsea (Chloe Moretz) begins seeing the dead DeFeo girl, and so on. The film recounts their very brief but tumultuous stay at the home the Lutz's believed would be their dream home, but which turned into a nightmare.

After seeing the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), which had the same production team, principal scriptwriter and visual effects team, and which I loved--I gave it a 10--I was completely psyched for the Amityville Horror remake. After all, unlike my view of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), which I also gave a 10, I think the 1979 Amityville has more than its share of problems. I like the original in spite of that, but producer Michael Bay and crew had plenty of opportunity for improvement. Unfortunately, although some aspects of this remake are better in my view, it suffers from a host of new problems. Like the first, the assets are good enough to transcend the flaws so that it squeaks by with a very low "B", or an 8.

In my view, there are two primary problems, with at least one a bit ineffable. The more effable problem is that relative newcomer director Andrew Douglas (his previous effort was 2003's relatively little-known documentary Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus) instructs cinematographer Peter Lyons Collister to shoot the film using way too much close framing. I repeatedly felt the urge to take a couple steps back so I could better discern the action, the settings, the staging of scenes, and so on.

The second problem lies more in the realm of writing and editing--the film just doesn't seem to flow right. The transition from scene to scene often feels almost arbitrary. Even though Reynolds does a great job in his transformation as George Lutz (and the acting is superb all around), there was a sense of buildup in the original that this remake is missing. Further indicative of the transition problems, although seemingly minor, is the fact that the date, or the day of the Lutz' stay at the home, is sometimes given as a title and sometimes not. It seems like they just forgot to add the day titles for half of the scenes. Overall the final cut gives an impression of being hastily put together.

And that's a shame, because there is a lot of potential here. The house itself is impressive, as it needs to be, and the overall style of the film is nicely atmospheric. I was also impressed with the production design by Jennifer Williams, which among other assets tends to have the period setting spot-on. For example, I was a huge Kiss, Alice Cooper, etc. fan during this era (and I'm still a fan). Williams has a number of Kiss and Cooper images in the film. She very carefully ensures that none are anachronistic.

Even though scriptwriter Scott Kosar disappointingly expressed a lack of enthusiasm for Anson's book and the original film, he reintroduces a number of elements from the book that work well, but which were left out of the original film. He also introduces new scenarios that in some cases are among the best material of the film--such as a breathtaking sequence on the roof of the home, and the extension of the mythology behind the "haunting". He also greatly improves on sequences such as the babysitter. But on the other hand, he inexplicably changes core elements of the story, like the kind of being that Jody is.

Anyone frustrated with the typical horror style of the later 1990s and early 2000s may find this remake troublesome. As one might expect with Michael Bay producing, Douglas is encouraged to use "MTV-styled" cinematography and editing. There are a number of extended techniques that have become somewhat clichéd in recent years. Douglas has characters do that fast headshaking movement ala Jacob's Ladder (1990). There are sections shot in a cinema vérité style. There are instances of quickly changing film stocks and processing methods, and so on. Even though I usually love all of that stuff, and I'm actually a fan of Bay's work, I have to agree that it's not exactly the most natural fit in this case. But for me, it's not something I would subtract points for either.

Maybe the most surprising fact is that this version of Amityville Horror is so close, structurally, to the original. There is nothing here that is a big surprise, and anyone who has seen the 1979 film a number of times will know exactly what's coming next, or close enough to it. Whether this is positive or not depends on your opinion of the original film, and just how highly you cherish originality for its own sake. Big Amityville fans and big haunted house film fans will probably enjoy the film enough. Everyone else should approach with more caution.

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95 out of 164 people found the following review useful:

good fun horror

10/10
Author: dewzi from United States
16 April 2005

My advice: Don't see the 1979 version first, don't think about it too hard, pretend it's not based on the "true story", and just enjoy this great horror film. It may not be a timeless classic, but its fun. The thing I liked best about this one is that everything makes sense. There's no cliffhangers or overly complicated mystery that never gets explained. It's just 89 minutes of very frightening ghosts popping up and some surprisingly appropriate acting. In fact, I would say this movie has one of the most petrifying ghost scenes ever.(The boy in the bathroom!)The costumes/makeup were really good too. Also, I loved Ryan Reynolds in a scary movie. I thought his quirky style was a perfect complement to the cast. He makes a smooth transition from Van Wilder to Blade 3 to Amityville because he seems to just be himself.

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64 out of 106 people found the following review useful:

Take it from me -- root for the ghosts

5/10
Author: filmbuff-36 from Houston, TX
21 April 2005

In terms of cinematic legacy, the original "The Amityville Horror" managed to foreshadow both "The Shining" and "Poltergeist" while swiping a few nods from "The Exorcist." But time has not been kind to the hit 1979 horror film, once considered spooky but now considered at best a camp classic.

The remake opens in the late 1970s, with George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) and his new wife Kathy (Melissa George) getting what appears to be the deal of a lifetime. A colonial era Long Island home that is within their price range has just come up for sale, and the two decide the place would be perfect to raise their children, all from Kathy's previous marriage.

Little do they know that the house comes with loads of supernatural baggage. The previous owner had killed his entire family within 28 days of moving in, claiming there was a demonic presence in the home that drove him to do so. It's not long before strange things start to happen with the new family as well.

Chelsea (Chloë Grace Moretz) starts seeing the ghost of the previous little girl who occupied the house, Billy (Jesse James) and Michael (Jimmy Bennett) see supernatural activity while also being blamed for the trouble it causes, and George begins to go mad, taking increasingly drastic steps to maintain order and discipline the children. It's not long before Kathy begins to suspect that all is not right in their quaint little home.

"The Amityville Horror" is such a mediocre film, you can't help but wonder what was once considered so shocking about the original story. In truth, with all the negative reviews the original movie received, it's obvious that that film (and its numerous sequels) is merely famous for being famous. The thing that most people seem to remember is the front of the house itself, which actually is scary looking. It's just a shame there's never been a horror movie filmed in the house to do its spooky appearance justice.

The other thing to note is that the remake still claims to be based on a true story, which is partially true. The real life Lutz's account was eventually proved to be a hoax to cover up the fact that the family couldn't pay their mortgage, but not before the family made millions on everything from talk show appearances to the movie rights.

The movie never really lets you into the horror that is occurring, and director Andrew Douglas does a very workman-like job directing the story, never really doing anything to interest us in the characters or situation. Special effects run amok, like walls that ooze blood and jack-in-the-box scares like decomposing ghosts jumping out at you, but it's all for naught. The movie can only scream "boo!" at you so many times before you start booing back.

Acting-wise, the movie is decent but not terribly inspired. Just like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining," Reynolds seems to lose his sanity just a tad too early for the rest of the story to be believable. As Kathy, George manages to be the emotional anchor holding the film together and does a good job, however her character puts up with far too much stress before she finally acts. The child actors all do okay, but they merely exist to be put in danger.

So, what was the purpose of remaking a horror movie that hasn't aged very well over the last quarter of a century? The main reason I can think of is the house itself, which still manages to scare people. Other than that, there's a big market for remaking classic horror films right now, though hardly any of been able to justify their own existence, including last year's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," also produced and written by the same team behind this film. "The Amityville Horror" is likely to join that undistinguished canon, ultimately being a horror movie about a group of people too dumb to leave a house just because the script requires them to stay. It's movies like this that make you want to root for the ghosts.

5 out of 10 stars. It's hard to feel sympathetic for characters in a movie who have to stay in a stupid situation just because the script says so.

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63 out of 114 people found the following review useful:

Better than the Original?

9/10
Author: jwfoster27 from United States
17 April 2005

When it comes to making a film in Hollywood these days it would appear that they are running out of original material. Any film that is over 10 years old has the chance of being remade but the real question is which will be better. This is a film that breaks the normal mold of being awful compared to its predecessor. I actually really enjoyed this remake and found myself more scared in this one than the original. Was this film Better? No. But it holds its own on its own merits. Having read the book, this one is a little more true to the story and for that I applaud the film makers. The film was very good and I rate it in my Horror Hall of Fame.

In this particular version of the film it could be said that it was more accurate to the original book. And for those who consider this to be a hoax there has never been any proof either way. It is quite interesting to hear people who think they are authorities on the matter. Most people probably have not even read the book. There have been more than one book written about what happened in the house and the house the stood on the same location prior to the incident with the Lutz family. This film represents more than just the book the Amityville Horror. It takes its cues from the different novels that have been written about the event and the location.

This movie is very scary, and has lots of good jumps in it. The director of the film was obviously very interested in not making a film that came across as a remake but one that could stand on its own merits and not those of its previous incarnation. When I go to a film I judge it by several different criteria since I used to be a movie critic for a reputable newspaper. These criteria are the following. 1. How did the movie effect the audience in general? 2. Storyline cohesion. 3. Special Effects (ie. did they detract from the movie, overpower the movie, or just assist in the telling of the movie) 4. Can it stand on its own if its a Prequel, Sequel or Remake. 5. When I left the movie did I feel like I had been part of it (ie Suspension of Disbelief)

When I look at the Amityville Horror it scored highly in all of these categories, especially the last which in my opinion is the most important of the 5. When you walk out from a film and you were ready to leave because the movie was good enough to make you feel as if you were part of it, it was just a good movie. Most people have preconceived ideas about what a movie should be like when they go into it. I on the other hand go in as blank slate as possible so I can take the movie for its own worth and nothing else. It is a suggestion that I would give to all movie goers, don't go in prejudging a film because of the movies prequels, or predecessors. This movie is a prime example of trying to compare it to the original. The two movies were very different takes on the story and should be viewed as such.

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23 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

I was scared!

8/10
Author: ausoff2 from United States
13 June 2006

Okay, let me start out by saying that I only started watching scary movies with "Signs." I loved it, and it really scared me. Since I saw it, I've been watching lots of horror movies, and so far, haven't found one that scared me as badly as "Signs." I saw the movies that people said were the scariest ever, like The Excorsist, Saw, and Scream, but I really found none of them scary. Finally, I see Amittyville Horror, and let me say: I loved it. It came near scaring me as much as signs! There weren't many kills, which I hated about typical slasher, and generally, it was the mood and atmosphere that scared. I will admit, though, I never saw the original, but really, I loved this movie. I would highly recommend it to anyone that likes horror movies!

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

oh my god did this suck(maybe spoiler)

1/10
Author: sperk-1 from kentucky, usa
29 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After seeing this movie I had to admit it was the absolute worst movie I have ever seen (Battlefield Earth included). When this train wreck of a movie was finished I had to wonder...did the script writer and/or director even read the book or see the original movie???? Refresh my memory..at what point in the book does George Lutz become an axe wielding psychopath??? Where does it mention some ignorant Indian killing preacher that lived in the house and had a torture chamber in the basement? When in the hell did they get this stuff. I seriously think dimension films owes me a refund for the time spent at this movie. I went to their website, but there is no way to contact them, no surprise there. If they keep putting out garbage like this I wouldn't want anyone being able to contact me either. I really don't remember any part in the book or original movie where Mrs. Lutz turns into some Bruce Willis one-liner spouting action hero. "No one dies today!" before wacking George with a shotgun or whatever the hell she picked up. If I were the Lutz's I would be ticked to be portrayed in this way. After making this movie, poor Ryan Reynolds actually has to keep Blade Trinity and Van Wilder on his resume as his best work to-date. Sorry Ryan, hope things get better for you. Please avoid this movie if you can, and if you did already see it, let me know if you know how to get a hold of the studio so I can demand a refund.

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A waste of energy

1/10
Author: rogan-roberts from Italy
7 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is easily the worst remake I've ever seen, apart from The Haunting. The original belonged to the 70's school of effective, atmospheric horror films, and although a bit silly, works. This failed on every level from the terrible pacing, confusing narrative and comical 'scarey bits'....It was unoriginal and obvious in the way a Muppet movie would be and played on every horror cliché in the worst possible way. The characters were fillers.....Completely unbelievable and served only to drag the story screaming to it's conclusion...In the horror genre reality is not a requirement....Feasibilty is !...You only need to suggest it might be possible and your audience will go with you...The film assumes it's audience has never seen any film, horror or otherwise....It took up 90 minutes I my life...I want them back !

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Nothing New, But Hardly a Bad Picture

6/10
Author: gavin6942 from United States
3 January 2007

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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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Borrow from a Buddy, because it's not worth it yourself....

3/10
Author: jaxbubba from THE FARIS REEL on Facebook
9 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A remake to the 1979 horror film The Amityville Horror, and based on the true events of a 28-day stay in a haunted house and the best seller of the same name; in this day and age, a house just isn't scary enough. So the writer's of this remake add a torture chamber in the basement, and quick-cuts of gruesome tortured souls to add spice and horror to this very overdone classic tale of suburbia gone awry. To date, nine (9) Amityville tales of horror have been told on film since 1979, each worst than the one prior, and I have to admit; that this remake does not break with tradition. In this go around, Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George star as George and Kathy Lutz; a middle class couple who find the house of their dreams amid the country side in the quiet town of Amityville, New York, a peaceful enclave on Long Island's south shore. Unbeknownst to our happy couple, that almost one year prior to the date of purchase, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. had committed mass murder of his parents and family in the very same house. Citing demon possession, DeFeo claimed the house was haunted. After twenty-eight days of residing in the house, George and Kathy Lutz fled their Amityville dream home for the very same reason. The funny thing about this film is that 26 years after the fact; it turns out that the whole kit-and-caboodle was a scam orchestrated by George Lutz to merely get out from under a mortgage that he couldn't afford. So why not tell that story? A story so grand that it took a national by surprised, and spawn 9 theatrical sequels. Oh well, who am I to suggest something so devious, and unquestionably dishonest? Just a thought.. This film is hardly worth noting, it fails on both fronts; it's not scary, nor is it a documentary to the events which occurred. Its Hollywood fluff for the fast buck, so we're probably in store for a tenth serial in the near future depending on box office receipts and DVD rentals.

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