Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Amityville Horror (2005)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Amityville Horror (2005) – 2 out of 5

After watching the original, I decided that I had to watch the 2005 remake that I actually never saw…despite the fact that a majority of it was filmed less than 20 minutes away from my house.

A pre-Hit-Girl Chloe Grace Moretz...
Deviating slightly from the book and the 1979 original, this version sees the Lutz family move into that demonic house (okay, so that’s still the same) and George (Ryan Reynolds’ abs—and I guess the rest of him, too) finds himself being slowly possessed by the evil that rests within its walls. Meanwhile, the youngest child; Chelsea, Kathy Lutz’s (Melissa George) daughter from a previous marriage forms a friendship with the spirit of a murder child in the house and Kathy’s two sons are becoming increasingly wary of the house and the transformation of George from a normal guy to a potential star of Cops as the days pass. Kathy starts to fear for her loved ones and seeks the counsel of Father Callaway (Philip Baker Hall) but the priest can’t grow a pair long enough to stay in the house. What’s the Lutz family to do? 

What's the Lutz family to do?  Why take off Ryan Reynold's shirt of course.

Unlike the book and the original film, this remake sees George Lutz become the film’s antagonist as he lashes out at the family as the house takes its hold on him. In the previous film, James Brolin felt irritation and sickness take him but always remained clear-headed enough to get down to the bottom of what it happening in their domicile. Of course, the answers were LITERALLY at the bottom as it turned out that not only did a murder take place in the home but a man did demonic ceremonies in the basement and tortured Indians (a fact kept in and developed more in this remake).

"Noooo, the gutters!!!"

This version also has the character of the priest being downplayed…unlike the scenery chewing performance of Rod Steiger in the 1979 film. Hall, instead, gives a much more subdued, more realistic Holy Man who isn’t yelling to the skies about the events and demons haunting the house. Still, he could be less of a pussy and not run out of the building wetting himself because of some spirits. The power of Christ apparently also extends to filling one’s pants and running away crying.

"Maybe I could help if I wasn't such a puss."

Believe it or not, this remake actually makes some improvements and advancements on the last one…of course, as you can tell by the fact that my score for this one is the same as the original, you are probably guessing that the improvements weren’t much and you would be correct in that guess.

Reynolds has no shirt again...

For me, the scares in the first film were few and far between and this one is not much different. However, unlike the original classic, this one does a far better job of creating a truly haunting atmosphere but this isn’t due to better storytelling or acting but rather due to the advancements in technology. Thanks to better cameras, computer editing and advancements in lighting technology, this film is able to offer a darker, grittier and overall more fitting tone and setting for the ghoulish story. The limits of technology is apparent when the two are compared—especially the light-up child’s toy in the dark meant to represent a ghost in the first film.

That's just normal in most houses, not the work of a demon.

However, despite the advancement in technology that allows for a more haunting setting, the overall presentation of the ghost story within the film’s running length is tiresome and cliché. Despite having an amazing tone set for the film, the director settles for cheap “jump” moments rather than create truly spine-tingling events. The film does this through tiresome repetition of dream/vision sequences and specter scenes that feel lifted from other films. This act becomes so monotonous that when the movie hit the supposedly terrifying third act, I was numb to the concept that this movie would possibly scare me. 

" from the burden of my shirt..."

One of the oddest things about this movie has to be the performance of Ryan Reynolds. This movie came out at a time when I couldn’t STAND Reynolds and found him to be more annoying than funny or endearing. However, times have changed and I now consider myself a fan of the man but this movie seems like it was in the middle of Reynolds transition from a one-joke note as Van Wilder to a more versatile actor who can be a bad-ass AND be funny as Deadpool in Wolverine (we’ll ignore the way that movie destroyed the character—and possibly the only real highlight). 

It's raining so hard I can't tell which is raindrops on her face and which is teardrops.

When the film opens, Reynolds is painfully unconvincing as a loving husband and a caring father figure to Kathy’s three children and I prepared myself for a feature length wooden performance from him. However, as he becomes more an more possessed by the evil in the house, he becomes chilling and addicting to watch…and then he’ll snap into his snarky Van Wilder character when he’s away from the house and it creates an overall bi-polar feel to his performance and it’s hard to say if he was good or bad because he literally is both throughout the entire film.

"You want me to take my shirt off again?"

The Amityville Horror isn’t great but, in my opinion, neither was the first one. Like the 1979 cult classic, this one offered up a single moment that was kinda spooky in a mess of bad jump sequences—but that’s better than the mess of unintentionally hilarious scared faces that made up the original. The tone is better and the story, although a tangle of cliché and contrived ghost story expectations, is a little more feathered out than the first film. I also found it cool that the movie was filmed almost entirely in Silver Lake, Wisconsin (literally about 20 minutes from my house) but, in the end and like most horror films, this movie did little to scare me but when your scary flick feels more like an excuse to constantly try and film Ryan Reynolds with his shirt off than actually create some scares, a lack of anything scary isn’t really that surprising.

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