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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Melissa George kinda has it goin' on, no? The Flies are horribly underused and the ending is a brobdignagian insult!
The Flies are horribly underused and the ending is a brobdignagian insult!