T H E
H O R R O R
Hollywood is all about horror films right
now. I guess you could say the resurgence truly began with the success
of the SCREAM movies in 1996, but lately there have been a number or
remakes that are raking in the box-office dough. It seems as if the
studios are doing one of two very specific things, either trying to
Americanize the wildly popular Japanese horror films of the last few years, or
just take a classic horror film and update it. Such is the case with the
new version of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Producer Michael Bay, who
last year brought into theaters a fairly successful redux of THE TEXAS
CHAINSAW MASSACRE, seems to be the main man behind this latest update.
Now you can say what you want about Bay as a director, but there's no denying
he know what audiences want from a producer perspective. Horror films
are hot now, and it's a lot easier to just remake an established story than
have to come up with something original. This film is supposedly based
on a true story, which in many ways is the most scary part about it.
Director Andrew Douglas, producer
Michael Bay, Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George work out a scene.
film opens by showing us events that took place in 1974, where a young man
killed his entire family with a shotgun, and told police the "voices" in their
house told him to do it. Cut to one year later. Kathy (Melissa
George) is recently remarried after her last husband died for unexplained
reasons. She has three children from that former relationship. Her
oldest son Billy (Jesse James) is 12, and is having the hardest time dealing
with the loss of his father. Her younger children, Michael and Chelsea,
seem more accepting of their current situation. The new man in Kathy's
life is a building contractor named George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds). They
both seem happy together, and their life seems pretty good. Kathy gets
it in her head that they need a bigger house, so she and George go looking
around and eventually find the aforementioned Amityville house up for sale.
It's an incredible deal, even if it means George will pretty much go broke
making it happen. Despite finding out that murders happened in the
house, the Lutz family decides to move in. Shortly after strange things
start happening. Chelsea begins talking to a seemingly imaginary little
girl by the name of Jodi, and George begins to acting very mean to the entire
family. Every time something bad happens, George immediately blames the
boys, and disciplines them harshly afterward. At one point a babysitter
falls victim to some strange occurrences in the house, and it becomes clear
that things are not right. Kathy even goes to the town priest, Father
Callaway (Philip Baker Hall), in hopes he can help. The longer they stay
in the house, the worse things get. Pretty soon George starts to lose
control completely, and it looks as if history might repeat itself if
something isn't done soon.
Kathy goes to Father Callaway
hoping to find some answers to her problems.
Those who remember the
original film most likely remember how creepy it was. The new film is
also creepy, but unfortunately suffers from more than a few moments that
simply emulate the more popular horror films of the last few years. The
little girl Jodi, who haunts the house and appears to almost everyone, is more
than a bit reminiscent of the little girl in THE RING. The actor that
steals the show is Ryan Reynolds, who manages to shed that funny guy image
convincingly, and turns in an impressive and layered performance. When
George Lutz begins to spiral out of control, we follow him the entire way.
It's uncomfortable and it works, thanks to Ryan's impressive acting.
Melissa George is also very good, proving she can play lead roles in a
interesting thing about this story is that it allows the actors to show
extreme amounts of emotion, which builds with every scene. The direction
is really good too, especially considering that director Andrew Douglas is
making his first big budget film debut with this film. The scares are
very effective, and the setup of each shot is intense as it should be.
I'm curious to see where Douglas goes from here. Michael Bay obviously
saw talent in Andrew, and it looks as if he made a good decision in letting
him helm this picture. Overall the movie is pretty good as horror films
go. There are a few cheap scares, and more than a few moments where they
rely on effects shots to shock the audience, but the end result is pretty well
done. Personally I wasn't impressed with the updated CHAINSAW
MASSACRE last year, so it was nice to see that this was done a bit better.
The fact that some of this supposedly happened in real life is pretty
fascinating to me. Granted there's a lot of things that were undoubtedly
exaggerated for dramatic effect, but overall it's all still pretty creepy to
watch. I've heard that the real George Lutz wasn't all that happy with
some of the things that they chose to do here. I'll say this, if I had
the opportunity to visit the real location, I think I'd definitely pass.
What makes this story so scary is that unlike traditional haunted house
stories, this house changes the people who live in it, and that's just freaky.
Horror fans should be pleased. The performances are wonderful, which
allows me to forgive the film's shortcomings in other areas.
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give THE AMITYVILLE HORROR a 7.
Jodi is waiting for you.
Visit the MGM official AMITYVILLE HORROR movie
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