‘Amityville’ remake is entertaining
April 13, 2005
I think I’ve given up trying to explain away why Hollywood produces so many remakes. All it does is frustrate me and only proves how old I am, having seen the original versions.
The 2005 incarnation of “The Amityville Horror,” however, is not bad. I actually liked this version better than the 1979 original. What? As a horror buff, I suppose I just alienated my peers, but taken on its own merit, a good old-fashioned scary romp this one is. Maybe I was just getting so tired of seeing sequels of wet girls crawling out of wells, that my mind was ready to see a house go freaky on its occupants. After what I paid in taxes this week I would have liked to have seen the IRS building in Washington go whacko on its occupants, but that’s another review I suppose. There’s plenty here to send a chill through your bones faster than an IRS audit with no money left in your account.
The story here is based on the 1974 killing of the DeFeo family, shot to death in their beds by Ronald DeFeo Jr., who insisted that the house told him to do it. Okay, he heard voices coming from the house ordering him to do it, according to the confession he later gave to the police. A year later, a new family moves in, consisting of George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds from “Van Wilder” and TV’s “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place”), a construction contractor, and his new bride, Kathy (Melissa George), along with her three kids from a former, deceased husband.
There is a law that exists where the real estate agent, I believe, has to tell the new homeowners-to-be that the house you are about to purchase was the site of a bloody crime scene. Apparently George doesn’t mind, since the place was a bargain in the upscale area of Amityville, Long Island. The house has other plans, and soon – well, you get the picture.
There are some intense scenes, to be sure, and seeing George’s demeanor change from that of loving stepfather to how to be cruel to stepchildren will make you squirm. Then again, it’s just a movie, right? Hold on to your date when the scene of Billy (Jesse James) gets to hold logs while “you’re not my daddy” George finds a new way of chopping wood. Then there’s Chelsea (Chloe Moretz), this sweet little girl who loves heights that will leave you gripping your seat tighter than a winning lottery ticket on a windy Tahoe morning.
It can be daunting playing a role that was cemented in stone by the original characters, but the actors here seem to pull it off quite nicely. Besides, if you didn’t see the original, then this is a moot point, so enjoy.
Recommended Stories For You
I will add that Philip Baker Hall did a superb job playing the priest, originally played by the late Rod Steiger. The only real gripe I might have is the ending. A little over-the-top, and I’ll leave it at that.
The scares are pretty good, and so is the cast, which includes the house. In fact, the house gets its own billing, and why not? When you see what lies beneath this house and its walls, you, too, will be climbing them!
The unexpected seems to terrify most people (in real life as well as on-screen) so those noises you hear throughout may be a good reason to lay off the Big Gulp before entering the theater.
– Howie Nave is the host/emcee/manager of The Improv at Harveys Tuesday through Sunday nights. You can hear him on seven radio stations every Friday morning reviewing movies in northern California and Nevada, including KRLT at Lake Tahoe and KOZZ in Reno. Watch him every Saturday and Sunday on Tahoe’s KMTN TV doing movie and video reviews.