Newlyweds and their three kids move into a large house where a mass murder was committed. They start to experience strange, inexplicable manifestations which have strong effects on everyone living or visiting the house.
Based on a true story that was claimed by writer Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror is about a large house on the coast of Long Island where newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz and their three children move into the house that they hope will be their dream house which ends up in terror. Despite full disclosure by the real estate agent of the house's history, George and Kathy buy the house. George says, "Houses don't have memories," but they turn to their family priest Father Delaney who believes the house is haunted and performs an exorcism on the house. But satanic forces in the house causes him to become blind and makes him very sick. With the help of another priest Father Bolen and a police detective, George and Kathy face the fears of the house, but not knowing the forces are planning to possess George and then the children.Written by
The Finnish title translates to "For God's sake, get out!" which was the prominent tagline on the original movie poster. This may indicate that whoever were responsible for coming up with the Finnish title mistook the tagline for the title. See more »
At the beginning the movie shows the sounds of the gun hidden by a thunder storm. In fact it was a quiet night, no storms and Ronald Defeo used a high power rifle that was NOT heard be any neighbors or reported any neighbors. This was brought up later as to how this could happen in a area of close homes. See more »
After a gruesome mass murder takes place in a big house in a nice neighbourhood, the house is sold for a very affordable price to the Lutzes, an average stepfamily of five. Soon after moving in, strange things start occurring: doors, windows and furniture move by themselves, strange sounds are heard and the family members start behaving oddly. Especially George (James Brolin), the stepfather, becomes sullen and brooding over a couple of weeks, upsetting his wife Kathy (Margot Kidder) and her kids. A local priest (Rod Steiger) also notices something gravely wrong about the house, but doesn't seem to be able to help the Lutzes despite his efforts. As the eerie incidents keep getting more and more distressing, how will the Lutzes cope with the situation?
Based on Jay Anson's book about the experiences of the real-life Lutzes, the movie maintains a somewhat down-to-earth approach to the supposedly true story. It begins so slowly that I was already becoming quite disappointed with it, even though I'm generally supportive of creeping atmosphere in cinema. However, after a while it becomes obvious that it's actually better seen as a character study as opposed to horror: George's menacing change of nature can be seen as a reaction to the stressful life situation he's going through: raising a family, running a business, moving into a new house and getting the bills paid. The bearded James Brolin captures George's emotions very effectively, essentially carrying the whole film with his performance. Rod Steiger's character Father Delaney goes through an even more drastic phase of anxiety and Steiger plays the role with all the necessary intensity, especially during his desperate call for help in a degrading church. Margot Kidder's character receives less attention, but she does her job decently too.
The film quickly leads thoughts to other religious horrors of the era, such as The Omen and The Exorcist, but also bears a resemblance to The Shining, even though the latter only came out after it. A theme of a family man slowly losing his mind and, more obviously, an axe-swinging finale are more fascinatingly handled in Kubrick's film, but The Amityville Horror reaches a decent amount of suspense at its best too. The music by Lalo Schifrin is perfectly in tune with the atmosphere and when it finally starts in the last minutes of the movie, the action looks OK as well. The very ending comes across as rather abrupt though, even though the last shot of the family's car from afar suits the mood well.
In summary, I think The Amityville Horror is a watchable movie, but more so as a character study than a flat out horror. What the film loses in action and gore, it wins back in the actors' performances and music. When watched with this in mind, it may prove out to be an enjoyable experience, even if it's not ultimately quite as great as the horror classics mentioned in the previous paragraph.
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