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The Amityville Horror
Andrew Douglas, USA, 2005
If Iíve said it once, Iíve said it a hundred timesÖ okay, maybe not a hundred
times, but I know Iíve said it before. Remakes are tricky. Remakes of films that
are a cornerstone of their genre are especially tricky. Remember
Dawn of the Dead? Like it or
not, The Amityville Horror is one of the classics of modern horror
cinema. When you ask someone to name a classic haunted house film, chances are
Amityville will be right at the top of the list. We all know the story.
If not, check out my review of the
original before proceeding.
Ryan Reynolds has taken over the role of George Lutz (made famous by James
Brolin). In real life, Ryan is engaged to Alanis Morissette, so I for one will
not question his bravery; brother's gonna find out about haunted houses soon
enough. I gotta give Ryan some love here. He does a pretty decent job of
recreating the character without doing an exact re-enactment of Brolinís descent
into madness, or taking it so far off the path that he takes himself right out
of the film. He portrays the role in a manner that makes it seem new, but not
unfamiliar, if that makes any sense. Well done,
The í05 Amityville comes in at a very lean 89 minutes, while the original
lasted 117 minutes (didnít think I did any research, did you?!). While I usually
decry excessive character development in a horror movie, for once, Iím going to
take the other side. In the original, Georgeís slide into demonic madness was a
slow but ever-growing concern. Here, after about 15 minutes, George is already
on a slippery slope to killing his family. But hey, when you got 89 minutes
(three or four of which is probably credits rolling), you gotta get busy. Itís
not a deal-breaker, but the accelerated pace is noticeable.
There are the familiar dark hallways and creepy voices, and cheap scares, but
there's nothing new here, save that the new version tries to explain in
painstaking detail the history of the house and the origin of its evil. I donít
wanna spoil it for ya, but it turns out there was a reverend who lived there
long ago and you certainly donít need me to tell you how creepy reverends can
Oh yeah, before I forget: Thanks to Jacobís Ladder, frenetic head shaking
has become a staple of supernatural tales. You know the movie I mean, the one
where the dudeís head shakes from left to right about 115 times in a second.
(That movie also proved just how creepy Macauley Culkin could be, long before he
grew into the grotesque homunculus he is today. Seriously, there should be a law
preventing child actors from turning 18, sort of like the setup in Logan's
Run. Haley Joel Osment, take note!)
Anyway, I digress. In an effort to include two of the most memorable scenes from
the original, Amityville í05 forces in the scene with the babysitter
locked in the closet. This time however, the original retainer-wearing
babysitter has been replaced with a totally hot, tree-smoking hippie chick
straight outta the 70ís when love was free, bras were not required attire, andÖ.
uh, sorry. The other scene is the infamous blessing of the house, which
initiates a swarm of flies that envelopes a priest. Sadly, the filmmakers were
not able to work in a vomiting nun anywhere, and I think the film suffers for
But is it scary? Well, thatís a very subjective call. Seasoned connoisseurs of
the horror arts will find nary a hair turning shock-white. Pantaloon-wearing
fops like our own Laurence Station, on the other hand, might want to stock up on
the Grecian formula.
Overall, Amityville í05 relies on clichťd scares and creepy music, and
thus lacks the punch of the original, which, like so many horror classics, did
more with less. Itís like a new model of an old car that has slightly changed
its lines, as opposed to a fresh and creative redesign. Remakes have a lot going
against them before they ever hit the screen, and Amityville í05 is able
to overcome some, but not all, of those obstacles.
But people love to be scared and they will hit these flicks even for one or two
moments of terror, and as I said already, that is a subjective thing. To some,
terror is a demonic spirit haunting a house. To others, it's being trapped in a
restroom in a Juarez bar with a crusty, ham-handed, syphilitic circus clown. To
Macauley Culkin, terror is those recurring dreams recalling long nights spent in
the hot tub at Neverland with Jacko, Bubbles the chimp and Corey Feldman.
Fans of the original should check out this flick just for comparative purposes,
if nothing else. If you return from the film and feel like killing your family,
then obviously it spoke to you. Unless you're a member of our Editor-in-Chief
Kevin Moreau's family, in which case you probably have those urges all the time.
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