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#9. The Amityville Horror (2005) - Review

The Amityville Horror (2005)It is admittedly hard for me to separate myself from a remake’s source material. As many of my readers know, John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece The Thing is my favorite film of all time, so I have my reservations about Matthijs van Heijningen’s remake coming out next week. While I do not regard Stuart Rosenberg’s 1979 classic The Amityville Horror as highly as I do The Thing, it is a fantastic film that added brilliant iconography to the haunted house subgenre. In 2005 director Andrew Douglas and Dimension Films took it upon themselves to attempt an update of the Amityville story, and the end result is typical of most horror remakes.

Sticking closely to the original film’s basic set-up, The Amityville Horror has George and Kathy Lutz (Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George respectively), a newlywed couple that are baited by a cheap sticker price into buying a house that was the site of a vicious murder only a year earlier.  Some of the details and instigating actions are revamped, but all-in-all Douglas plays it safe and delivers a special effects heavy remake of many of the same scares found in the original (flies and all).

That is not to say the scares are not effective, in fact quite the contrary. I have watched this version of The Amityville Horror several times and there are several situations that succeed at being truly frightening, if not imaginative. This is in despite of an over the top performance by its star Ryan Reynolds. The bearded and shirtless hunk spends the majority of the film playing to a model of disembodied rage, but distractingly only manages laughable squawks and wails that derail the film’s tone.

Check out the update only after watching the 1979 original. It may not hold a candle to the storytelling abilities of its predecessor, but this newer Amityville Horror does stand on its own as a solid, worthwhile horror film.


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