The Amityville Horror (2005)
(Release Date: April 15, 2005)

Not what you'd call a great movie!Not what you'd call a great movie!

Okay, now you're not even trying!

The HAUNTING Critic!!!
J.C. Maçek III
The World's Greatest Critic!

Michael Bay is used to simply slapping his name on a project and watching money direct deposit into his account faster than buildings blow up in his movies. Most of the flicks he puts his name on aren't particularly artful, or even "good", but they do lend themselves well to Marketing Blitzes. Of course, I should have known better after that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, but hey, the next movie he produced was The Amityville Horror... how could I resist? Because The Amityville Horror has been near and dear to my heart, I bellied-up to the Box Office and held out my hands like Oliver Twist saying "Please Sir, Can I have some More?"

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Eye... will be watching... you!
Realityville Horror!

"Based" on the True Story?
So what's real and what's fake?

While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was made up, but billed as a true story, The Amityville Horror has a bit (but just a bit) more of a claim to reality than its legendary cousin! Is this "Real"? No. But here are the facts:

The real house! Really!It is absolutely true that the famous house on 112 Ocean Avenue is a real place. Though the "High Hopes" house's address has been changed to curb Tourism (and its distinctive quarterHow it looks now!-round windows replaced) the house still stands on its original location.

It is absolutely true that the Defeo family lived in this now-famous house, and died there somewhere around 3:15 AM on Wednesday, November 14, 1974. It is true that Ronnie "Butch" Defeo Junior was convicted of murdering his parents, Ronald and Louise in their beds and went on to shoot and kill his two brothers and two sisters (neither of whom was named "Jodie") in the same fashion that same night. "It all started so fast. Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast."

The Stupid Poster!It is also true that the next family to live in that house were the real-life Lutz family, and it appears that they lived in the house for only a short time before leaving.

Here's where it gets tricky, though. At no point did Ronnie Defeo suggest that "Voices" or "God" (as the novel indicates) told him to kill his family, nor did he, or anyone else, claim that he was possessed. Who did he say killed them? The Mafia! Then he confessed that he did it at the insistence of the Mafia! Then the story changed to him killing his family in self-defense. He did indicate that with a gun in his hands he felt that he was God.

Defeo's attorney, William Weber, did attempt an insanity defense, but no such supernatural or Ketcham Kill 'em suggestions were made. The insanity defense failed and the real-life Ronnie is still in prison.

It is true that George and Kathy Lutz are two real people, who did claim (and some sources say recant) that the house was haunted. The story was made world-famous by the Jay Anson novel (which is admittedly pretty good), and the subsequent 1979 motion picture (which is... not so good).

The priest upon whom "Fr. Mancuso", "Father Delaney" and later "Father Callaway" was based on reported no strange happenings when he blessed the house. There was no Police Report, or damage to the house, as described in the novel (and the movies). Paranormal investigator Dr. Stephen Kaplan found no evidence of Ghosts to bust, but did find more holes in George's story than a Bagel Shoppe.

The claim has been debunked by the Catholic Church, William Weber, Stephen Kaplan, the real Father Pecoraro, and yes, even George and Kathy Lutz.

The family who moved into the house after the Lutz clan also left the house, but not because it was haunted. They left because of unwanted fan/ tourists. The family after them, however is (reportedly... I don't know 'em) still living there today and has never had any complaint about the supernatural or anything else besides the occasional tourist.

Incidently, there was a man named "John Ketcham" (actually two) that had some superficial affiliations with the area that would one day be real life Amityville. There is no record of either Ketcham experimenting on Native Americans or practicing witchcraft, however.

So, is it "Based on the True Story..."? Yeah, there is a grain of a seed of reality there, but let's face it Forbidden Planet is based on The Tempest too! Enjoy the Fiction (I do!), but if you want to know if it's "Real", your answer is "Nope!"

But make up your own mind:
The Wikipedia Article.
The Crime Library article on Ronnie Defeo
Amityville: Horror or Hoax?
The Amityville Horror Article from
Investigative Files - Amityville: The Horror of It All
And for a different take (Including an interview with George Lutz):
And to hear the story straight from George Lutz: (The above is based on research I've gathered. Hearing it from the source is a good call.)

-Haunted by Research Kneumsi

And don't miss...
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Amityville II: The Possession (1982)
Amityville 3-D (1983)
Amityville IV: The Evil Escapes (1989)
The Amityville Curse (1990)
Actually... miss them... it's cool!

How could I refuse... I read the book and knowing it was a True Story, it scared the bloody hell out of me! Sure the original film sucked, but this one could have it goin' on like a Beyonce Strip show! Well, while The Amityville Horror's claim to reality lies somewhere between "Dubious" and "Bullshit", let's give the new one a shot!

Sadly, this new, Michael Bay-Produced The Amityville Horror is not a good movie! In fact, it's half passed the ass-crack shadow of absolutely terrible, falling into the ridiculous clichés of mistaking "Startling" for "Scary" and re-imagining the entire plot line (which made the original story seem so real). Interestingly enough, this new script, by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake writer Scott Kosar much more closely resembles a remake of The Shining than a new Amityville flick! Now, if we're going to stick to the claim that this is "Based on the True Story...", shouldn't your facts be a little less diverse from the other versions of this story?

After a night of grisly family murders at the hands of Brendan Donaldson's Ronnie Defeo, the mother of all creepy-looking Colonial Houses is bought by the Lutz family. At first everything seems beautiful as George, Kathy, and the kids Billy, Michael, and Chelsea settle in to the house of their dreams. However, dreams quickly turn to nightmares as the house begins to present itself as more than meets the eye-shaped window!

Looks like the dream-home is haunted, not just by the Defeos, but by something much, much older and more vicious than a GOP Campaign Manager. Slowly, but surely, poor George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) is going bad as rancid peanut butter, and he's soon on the Amtrack to hell... or at least a room mate situation with smilin' Ronnie Defeo.

So why don't they GET OUT? As lovely Melissa George's Kathy Lutz finds out, it's easier said in an Eddie Murphy stand-up act than done! While it seems sensible enough to Philip Baker Hall's Father Callaway (who, quite literally "Flies" the hell out of there), Georgie-Porgie Puddin' and Punk simply ain't movin'!

The infamous architecture (now with a taller, leaner look that takes advantage of the creepy window illusions) evokes memories of the real 112 Ocean Avenue (in the movie, "412"), and there is a checklist of Easter Egg items from the original Jay Anson novel. However, Kosar seems to earn every bit of one hundred dollars in his writing of the script, and it's clear that the real haunting influence in this movie is the meddling hand of Michael Bay.

The real shame of this is that there was the potential here to be a good movie. Ryan Reynolds' every-line-is-a-joke delivery almost disappears as he slowly devolves into madness, and Melissa George is steady (and fully American in her accent) as the scared, yet devoted wife and mother. That's not to say that either of them are Oscar-Worthy... no, this is a mellodramatic script with a call for a mellodramatic delivery, and mellodrama is spewed all over this film like skunk juice. Ryan Reynolds is desperately trying to break his "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" mold, while Melissa George is obviously meant for better things. What's more director, Andrew Douglas seems to really have a feel for the horror genre... but let's face it, when remakes like Dawn of the Dead and imitative stabs like Cursed are defining the Genre, that's not a good thing, Homer!.

The final outcome of this project is a convoluted mess relying on shocks instead of scares and orchestra hits amid silence to punctuate the appearance of a startling image. Every time you hear that sustained keyboard note you know a ghost is about to pop out with the musical cue for the audience to scream. The whole thing makes one feel for the cast who, in most cases, feel like they're giving their all to a lost cause, rearranging the textual deck chairs on a Titanic made of celluloid. The Amityville Horror is proof that the goal lately is that first weekend's box office, not for the making of Art. Simply load your movie with enough marketable snap-shots to formulate a creepy commercial, and the kids will come! Come on... try a little, Mike!

The early promise is lost by the last half, but giving all credit where due, The Amityville Horror Remake gets Two Stars out of Five. As Trey Parker and Matt Stone so boldly asked in Team America World Police: "Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies?" This cast with a little care, and a lot of script could churn out a hell of a movie. Maybe next time. Maybe Michael Bay will retire after directing "The Transformers Movie" and that upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre Prequel. Damn. So until Bay remakes The Exorcist without a writer, but with a Tag Line that screams "REGAN WAS REAL, REGAN WAS REAL!", I'll see you in the next unreal Reel.

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The Amityville Horror (2005) Reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is solely responsible for his own views and also for the fact that he does his research before "Swearing" something is real!
Got something to say? Write it!

Melissa George kinda has it goin' on, no?

The Flies are horribly underused and the ending is a brobdignagian insult!

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The house at night!How it looks now! (108 Ocean Avenue now... to curb Tourism)