The Amityville Horror

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Review byMatthew Turner13/04/2005

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 89 mins

Surprisingly enjoyable remake, thanks to good performances and some effectively scary scenes.

These days it seems like you can’t move in cinemas without encountering either a rubbish remake or a low-quality horror flick and, on first glance, The Amityville Horror (based on the 1979 ‘classic’) has the potential to be both. It comes as something of a surprise then that the film is actually rather enjoyable - it’s certainly a cut above the recent horror films we’ve had to put up with, such as Darkness or Boogeyman.

House Purchase Leads To Terrible Haunting

Set in 1975, the film stars Ryan Reynolds (Blade: Trinity) and Melissa George (TV’s Alias, Home & Away) as George and Kathy Lutz, a couple who jump at the chance of buying a huge house on Long Island that really ought to be out of their price range. The catch? Well, the house just happens to have been the site of a grisly murder, in which a young man claimed to be possessed and slaughtered his entire family.

Not to be deterred they move in anyway, along with Kathy’s three children from a previous marriage and a dog with the words ‘Won’t Make The Final Reel’ clearly visible on its forehead. Sure enough, it isn’t long before the daughter (Chloe Moretz) is befriending dead girls and George starts getting a little axe-happy…

Director Andrew Douglas keeps things ticking along nicely, keeping the FX sequences to a minimum in favour of a sustained creepy atmosphere and shooting everything in an effective grainy 1970s style. The script is better than average too and presents the Lutzes as believable characters - although you do wonder why no-one bothered to research the murders before they moved into the house.

Extremely Good Performances

The performances are extremely good. Reynolds is well cast in the lead - it’s genuinely upsetting as the house starts to chip away at his Nice Guy persona. He also spends a huge amount of the film either half-naked or dripping wet, if you like that sort of thing.

Melissa George is also very good in her best screen role to date - though it has to be said you get constantly distracted by a) the fact that she’s really too young to have a 12 year old son and b) her disturbingly huge eyebrows.

The supporting cast are equally good, particularly Jesse James (The Butterfly Effect) and Jimmy Bennett (Daddy Day Care) as the two young boys, but particularly the ever-reliable Phillip Baker Hall as a priest and Rachel Nichol in a hilariously over the top turn as the World’s Worst Baby-Sitter.

There are some effectively scary scenes here (a rooftop sequence in particular), despite the fact that a lot of the best material seems ripped off from other films (e.g. the axe bit from The Shining, the ‘imaginary friend’ from Hide and Seek, etc). There are also flashes of humour, mainly in Reynolds’s occasional wisecracks, such as “Houses don’t kill people, people kill people”.

In short, The Amityville Horror is a competently made, well acted remake that works surprisingly well. Worth seeing, unless you’ve just moved in to a house that was the site of a murder or two…

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The Amityville Horror
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Content updated: 26/05/2017 23:05

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