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THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (R) (2005)

MGM/Dimension Films

Official Site

Director: Andrew Douglas

Producers: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller

Written by: Scott Kosar; from the novel by Jay Anson

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Philip Baker Hall, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Moretz

Rating:


(AN: This review contains revealing plot information for Rosemary’s Baby (1968). If you have not seen Rosemary’s Baby or do not want the end to be spoiled, read with discretion.)

When I see the classic image of the roaring lion as the MGM logo appears, and then watch the movie that follows, I can’t help thinking that it’s no wonder why Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios got absorbed by Sony. Studios bring on their own demises by conceiving ridiculous ideas and projects such as this, yet another useless remake—The Amityville Horror.

After the violent prologue, the movie begins with… well how should a conventional horror movie that doesn’t try to break the rules or establish new ground begin? With a clichéd and nigh-stereotypical montage of soundbites and headlines revolving around the tragic and violent act. Something screwy happened in that house up in Amityville, Long Island… so of course the demonic domain needs some fresh blood, which we find in the Lutz family. There’s contractor, George (Reynolds), seemingly newly wed to housewife, Kathy (George), who is already mother to three children. Therefore, step-dad George has insecurity and rejection issues, especially with oldest, bratty son, William (James).

The parents check out the house, which is apparently within the family’s price range. And even though the agent who shows the house obviously wants to get out of there faster than a pre-teen spending the night at the pop star’s house, the family loves it. George almost convinces me he is smarter than he appears by asking right out what the catch is, as we learn that murders took place there. But that’s okay; they like it anyway and they’ll make it work. Umm… no you won’t, dumb-asses! I know Rosemary’s Baby had already been released before 1975. And if Rosemary had taken the hint from her pal about someone finding a dead baby wrapped in newspaper in the complex they moved into, well then maybe Rosemary wouldn’t have borne the son of the Devil.

So the dumb-ass family moves into the whack house, and quicker than you can say “Candy-man” five times, shit starts happening. Then the film becomes a low-rent version of The Shining with Ryan Reynolds’ not so gradual descent into madness. Reynolds in particular is ineffective with this technique, and comes off badly—unintentionally campy rather than creepy or scary. Though if you’re one of those people who find Master Reynolds rather attractive, this movie may be for you as the camera seems to have an almost fetishized relationship with the future Mr. Alanis Morissette.

Melissa George, too hot for her own good, is hardly convincing as a working-class mother of three children. Margot Kidder, for whatever reason, is just easier to buy in that type of role—mainly because Kidder never really looked like a supermodel as Ms. George does.

So we have a horribly hacked together narrative and group of characters, clichéd as can be conventions, unconvincing actors, overly slick music video-style editing, and the usual cheap scares and jumps. Top things off with a rather lame payoff and finale and you get what is essentially the modern Hollywood horror film. It’s almost enough to make me long for the “yuppie horror” of M. Night Shymalan’s The Sixth Sense. Personally, I’m happy this happened to a movie I never saw and don’t really care for. But now that it could happen to The Evil Dead, well… that prospect is something that fills me with true horror.

—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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