Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Andrew Douglas
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Philip Baker Hall, Chloe Grace Moretz.
Michael Bay seems intent on remaking some of the classic American horror films of the past thirty years. First there was his treatment of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which turned the story into a cliched teenage slasher thriller. And now he reworks The Amityville Horror, and again turns it into a run-of-the-mill haunted house story, with all of the attendant cliches and none of the surprises. First filmed in 1979, The Amityville Horror told the hysterical, and supposedly true, story of the Lutz family who moved into a spacious Long Island mansion, only to flee it 28 days later believing it was possessed. The success of the original film spawned a number of increasingly silly and inferior sequels.
When they bought the house at a bargain basement price, the Lutz family was unaware of the house’s recent tragic history. The previous owners, the Defeos, were massacred in their sleep by the family’s oldest son, who later claimed that demons and voices inside the house told him to kill them. Soon after moving in, the Lutz family begins to disintegrate both mentally and physically, as they see all sorts of malevolent apparitions and strange, inexplicable happenings.
George (Ryan Reynolds) constantly complains that the house is cold and becomes obsessed with the dingy basement. His attitude towards his three stepchildren also changes, and he becomes angry and potentially violent. Youngest daughter Chelsea (newcomer Chloe Grace Moretz) sees ghostly images of Jodie, the Defeo’s daughter. Even the local priest, brought into exorcise the demons from the house, is unable to help the Lutz family. Then one dark and stormy night, the family flees the house in terror before an increasingly erratic George kills them all.
On the strength of this pedestrian effort there seems to have been little reason to have bothered remaking the film in the first place, as director Andrew Douglas brings little that is fresh or surprising to the material. Even the special effects seem strangely old fashioned and uninspired. This remake is aimed firmly at those gullible audiences who fell for all the hype surrounding films like The Blair Witch Project, which cleverly used the Internet to hype up its supposed historical background.
Melissa George doesn’t look old enough to be the mother of three kids, including a 12-year-old; but she reacts splendidly to all of the cinematic pyrotechnics. Reynolds gets plenty of opportunity to show off the muscles he developed for his action hero role in the recent Blade Trinity.