Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD EXTRAS: Director, Writer Interviews. Key Cast Interviews.
Making of/Behind the scenes. Audio Commentary.
HOLLYWOOD genuinely seems to be struggling to find inspiration
from the horror genre at the moment, given the amount of remakes
that seem to be heading our way.
When not turning to Japan, film-makers seem to be delving into
American cinema's own past, given the recent likes of The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The latest is The Amityville Horror, a fresh take on the classic
1979 chiller starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder.
The film is supposedly based on the following real events.
On November 13, 1974, Suffolk County Police received a frantic
phone call that led them to 112 Ocean Avenue, in Amityville, Long
Inside the large Dutch Colonial house they discovered that an
entire family had been slaughtered in their beds.
The murderer was Ronald DeFeo Jnr, the eldest son of the DeFeo
family, who had taken a rifle to his parents and four siblings
while they slept.
Although he confessed to the crimes, Ronald claimed 'voices'
in the house drove him to commit the murders and he was subsequently
found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder.
One year later, however, a new family moved into the house -
the Lutzs, comprised of George, Kathy and her three children from
a past relationship.
They lasted a mere 28 days, being forced to flee without any
of their belongings after being terrorised by a series of increasingly
strange and violent events that almost claimed their lives.
The ensuing tale became a best-selling book (by Jay Anson) before
being turned into a movie, while the house in question continues
to attract tourists who feel drawn to its supernatural story.
The question remains, however, as
to whether the events chronicled in both the book and the film
are true, or merely an elaborate hoax invented by the Lutzs to
help get DeFeo re-tried and to alleviate their own financial worries.
The new film version of the story, directed by Andrew Douglas,
isn't interested in exploring the post-haunting events, preferring
instead to chill audiences with what's thought to have happened
inside the house instead.
To be fair, it starts well, delivering some genuinely jumpy set
pieces and maintaining a suitably impending sense of terror.
Yet by the time the special effects take over and the blood starts
to flow, the film becomes a mere re-tread of countless other splatter-fests,
which merely undermines the horror and highlights the stupidity
of the situation.
Why, for instance, did it take so long for the Lutzs to flee
the property, given the danger they regularly found themselves
in and the increasingly bizarre happenings?
Of the performances, Ryan Reynolds acquits himself well as George
Lutz, whose descent into madness is convincingly portrayed, while
Melissa George, as Kathy, looks suitably terrified when she needs
The children, too, are well-cast, with Chloe Moretz especially
convincing as the daughter of the family, who befriends a ghost.
But all find themselves struggling against some of the more banal
elements of the script, which continually raised impromptu chuckles
from the preview audience.
The house, itself, is also well shot, appearing creepy and uninviting
from the outset, and effectively recapturing the look of the Seventies
movie (in which it featured so prominently).
Had the film decided to keep things psychological and play to
the viewers' imaginations, it might have fared better during its
But as is often the case with modern horror, the desire to showcase
the special effects budget, while conforming to all the usual
'big jump moments', wins through at the expense of anything truly
As such, the remake of The Amityville Horror isn't nearly as
terrifying as it ought to be.