The Amityville Horror (2005)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 21, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Sony Pictures (Australia). Region 2 & 4 PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1. English (FHI), English, French, Arabic, Hindi Subtitles. 86 minutes
The Movie
Director: Andrew Douglas
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Moretz
Screenplay:Scott Kosar
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Country: USA
Year: 2005
The Hollywood gears turn, and the remakes are pumped out. It appears that no movie, no matter how sacred to the horror fan's mind, like Dawn of the Dead or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, can avoid being remade. In the horror genre, ghost stories are hard to do, and remaking a classic ghost story must be even harder, but director Andrew Douglas and writer Scott Kosar (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2005, The Machinist) from Jay Anson's novel of the same name, seem to do a pretty good job of it. Some of the elements of the first film make appearances here, sometime a little forced, like George's fascination with wood chopping, but lead to much more suspenseful results. Other elements, such as Kathy's religious beliefs, are present, but not as apparent. This film is in no way superior to the original, but it is almost on par, with amazing subtle special and CG Effects that were not available when the original was made in 1979. Clearly this film was aimed at a younger audience than the original, considering it was nominated 3 times at the 2005 Teen Choice award for Choice Movie Thriller, Choice Movie Scream Scene for Rachael Nichols (who plays Lisa, the babysitter) and Choice Movie Scary Scene for Ryan Reynolds (George Lutz in the Bathtub). It also received best Horror Trailer (for the 'Get Out" Trailer) at the Golden Trailer awards.

Set in the early seventies, the film starts with young ne'er do well, Ronald DeFeo (Brendan Donaldson), systematically going through his house and executing his entire family, including his little sister, Jodie (Isabel Conner). A year later, George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) and his new wife Kathy (Melissa George) and her three children (Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett and Chloe Grace Moretz) from her previous marriage, are surprised to find the same house on Ocean Avenue in Amityville at such a bargain price, not knowing its horrible history. Little do they know of the secret that lies beneath the house, waiting to consume the occupants! Within twenty eight days, they will endure terror and madness that will force them from the house, never to return. Not even the assistance of local priest, Father Calloway (Philip Baker Hall) can save them from the terrifying horror that they will endure.

With influences from the recent fascination with j-horror movies like Dark Water and the Ring series, the remake of The Amityville Horror actually works. Reynolds and George are likable and really become the characters of George and Kathy Lutz, even though the dialogue at times can be a little clunky. A special comment goes to the four actors who play the children, who at no point suffer from the dreaded child actor annoyance syndrome (or Annakin-itis as I like to call it). Some of the more ridiculous ideas of the original have been dumped, like the glowing eyed pig ghost, replaced with some chilling imagery. The subject of alienation is really explored well in this film, and makes it quite chilling at times. The ultimate revelation to the source of the houses ghost problem is a little silly, but it leads to some great horror-rock styled MTV quick cuts.
This film is presented in a fantastic 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen that is as clear as a bell all the way through.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is great. Full of deep murmurings and hums, the sub-woofer really adds to the feeling of discomfort and alienation that the characters are going through.
Extra Features
The audio commentary on this disc is with star Ryan Reynolds and producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. This commentary is informative and quite amusing, as Reynolds is quite funny (considering his previous movie and TV history it is understandable), and acts like a mediator to Form and Fuller's facts.

Supernatural Homicide is a 17 minute 33 second documentary/debate about the actual facts of the original DeFeo case. Was it a supernatural occurrence or cold blooded mass murder? The original investigating police and a psychic investigator recall their impressions of the house.

The Source of Evil is a 26 minute 28 second documentary about the origins and making of the film. It contains interviews with Michael Bay, Andrew Douglas, Scott Kosar and members of the cast.

On Set Peeks is a really interesting concept where as you watch the movie, just before an effects laden scene begins, you get to see a small bit of 'making of' footage of the scene. There are nine of these points on the movie.

The Photo Gallery has three sub-headings: Crime Scene, which shows the props used for the DeFeo crime scene part of the film, House interiors, which is self explanatory and Ghosts and Torture, a series of drawings showing some of the terrifying members of the paranormal.

There are 8 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Reynolds, Fuller and Form. They are not necessary scenes, with a fairly pedestrian commentary over them.

There is a sneak preview trailer for Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.
The Verdict
The Amityville Horror (2005) is a different film to the original. Unlike other Hollywood 're-imaginings' this had a grounding in fact and therefore could not really be changed to much from the original, but because of the excellent performances by the cast, and direction that strikes all the emotional chords correctly, it works really well. When it comes down to it, it is a haunted house movie, and if you enjoy that type of move, there is no reason why you would not enjoy this.
Movie Score
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