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The Amityville Horror
Dimension Films, 2005, Rated R, 1hr. 29 min.
George (Reynolds) strikes a pose
Kathy (George) talks to Father Callaway (Hall)
Kathy gets a spooky magnet message
A scared Kathy
Arguably, everyone has heard of the supposed haunted house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long Island, New York thanks to a book and a 1979 movie about the Lutz family and their 28 days in the house. Being able to say that a movie, especially a horror movie, is "based on a true story" gives credibility (and a higher spooky factor if it's in the horror genre) to a movie.
In this new film, it seems like not a lot except for the premise is based on actual events. I don't recall the real George Lutz trying to kill his family. But oh well, that's Hollywood! Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
The new story goes like this George (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy Lutz (Melissa George), a newly married happy couple, move into a suspiciously cheap Long Island colonial house with her three kids – Billy (Jesse James), Michael (Jimmy Bennett) and Chelsea (Chloe Moretz). The house comes at a bargain due to the murders of the DeFeo family that occurred there the year before.
The family happily moves in, but soon George seems a bit off, and we watch as he turns into mad, creepy George. If I hadn't known the premise I may have thought his madness was due to him realizing that he's a hot, fairly young guy who just tied himself down to a woman with three bratty kids in a house that, although cheap, he still has to struggle to pay for... Anyway, George swings back and forth between loving step-father and The Stepfather. Unfortunately, the way he does it seems unintentionally campy rather than creepy or scary. It's like you want to point at him and say, "Get a load of this guy!"
The movie has a few scares and the first half of the movie is definitely effective as a ghost story. There are apparitions making shadowy appearances and glimpses of ghostly images. Chelsea makes an invisible friend who has the same name of the murdered DeFeo girl. Add a family dog that barks at everything and throw in a priest for good measure, and you get a few good scares. It does seem like the movie is building to something and then falls flat. It is no longer a ghost story but a slasher movie, with George chasing is family around with an axe and making facial expressions that are closely reminiscent to Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
All in all, this is movie is better than the 1979 version and will be enjoyable to some. However, if you are looking for real scares, make yourself invisible at the rental line for this one.
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Reviewed by: Boolicious, Special Contributor to Haunted Bay 09/24/2005
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