THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
** (out of 5)
April 15, 2005
Ryan Reynolds as GEORGE LUTZ
Melissa George as KATHY LUTZ
Jesse James as BILLY LUTZ
Jimmy Bennett as MICHAEL LUTZ
Chloe Grace Moretz as CHELSEA LUTZ
Rachel Nichols as LISA
Philip Baker Hall as FATHER CALLAWAY
Directed by: Andrew Douglas
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Shame on Michael Bay. Shame on him for producing a lame remake of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” And now, shame on him for cranking out another lame remake of a 1970s horror classic.
This time it’s “The Amityville Horror.” And while I’ve never been a huge fan of the original, I cringed watching this new version. The special effects are over used, suspense is replaced with disturbing imagery and the characters are more clueless than in the original (in case you were wondering if that was even possible).
To a certain degree, I appreciate what they were trying to do with this movie. For a remake, it has its merits. They try to pay homage to the original film by reshooting some of the classic scenes. For example, one of the most memorable scenes in the original was when Rod Steiger comes to bless the house and he is chased away by the evil voice that tells him to “Get out!”
This scene is redone relatively well in the new version, except that the filmmakers couldn’t resist the temptation to go over the top with some special effects. That is the inherit problem in the film itself. It reminds me of how the “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” remake showed body parts being lopped off when the real power in the original was what you didn’t see.
“The Amityville Horror” is a great example of filmmakers doing what they could without even thinking if they should.
The real victims here is the cast. I really feel sorry for the actors because they’re definitely not the weak link. Melissa George, whom I last saw in the third season of “Alias” as the traitorous wife of Agent Vaughn, does well as the terrified wife.
Philip Baker Hall plays Father Callaway well, but the writing of his character is weak. When he finally flees from the house, he just goes back to his job. In the original, Rod Steiger’s character kept trying to warn the family, eventually being struck blind by the evil spirits. In this new film, Callaway never makes an attempt to contact them again. What a crummy priest.
Ryan Reynolds, who plays George Lutz, is mostly known for his comedy roles. Even in last year’s “Blade Trinity,” he played the comic relief. I don’t know if the director meant for him to be funny in this film, but he is. He most definitely is. Maybe if a modern-day James Brolin had played him, he could have delivered the lines with a serious tone. However, when the character of George Lutz is supposed to be at his most evil, Reynolds’ deadpan delivery makes this one of the funniest films I’ve seen all year.
In some ways, this film is a serious attempt to remake the first. However, there are plenty of other examples in which they completely throw out the sensibilities of the original. For example, the original “The Amityville Horror” painted a picture of a house that was pure evil. It was the house that seduced the people inside, and it was the house – and the demons within – that caused all the problems.
In this version, too much attention is paid to the ghost of the little girl that was killed in the house. She’s overused, placed in weird situations simply for shock value, and this is confusing. Was the house evil? Or was the girl evil?
In almost every instance where I felt the original needed a little more flesh, this new version provided some. However, these moments almost always went too far with the special effects or didn’t seem fully baked. Another example of this is there is more screen time devoted to explaining why the house became evil in the first place. This is pretty much glossed over in the original, but there is a full sequence explaining it in the remake. However, this version is so gory and over-the-top that it actually becomes laughable by the end.
But what do you expect from a movie that’s based on a movie that’s based on a book that’s based on a true story about ghosts?