The Amityville Horror (remake)

When the clock strikes 3:15- Sh-t will hit the fan…

I just got back from MGM/Dimension Films’ Amityville Horror remake, which was produced by the guys behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Platinum Dunes. The film was a blast- a perfect popcorn-munching, yet jolting, feast for your eyes.

In the remake to the classic 1979 film, which is also based on a true story, Ryan Reynolds (Mr. Van Wilder himself) plays a hard-working man named George Lutz, who is trying to impress his new wife Kathy (Melissa George) and win over her kids. They find an old house in Amityville, which is a steal – but as they say, nothing is free. Throughout the film George becomes seemingly possessed by the house and slowly becomes part of the dark past that the house conceals.

Over the past few months this film has come up on numerous occasions in casual conversations and for the most part- people HATE the original. Most people say that it goes nowhere and isn’t scary at all. Then there are the few people who enjoyed the original, but felt it could be a lot better- making this one of the rare “acceptable” remakes in many people’s eyes. So the real question is how does this compare?

It’s better- a lot better. Between the Directing style of Andrew Douglas and the adaptation written by Scott Kosar the remake is taken to its very limit. They even went as far as to remove the infamous “red room” and change the final act completely. This time the film actually goes somewhere… somewhere terrifying. Although I cannot spoil the end or even reveal any of the details, I can tell you this- Clive Barker would be proud. Scott Kosar found a way to take a simple haunted house story and makes it grim, bloody and disgusting.

Dimension Films is releasing this flick and they are notorious for slicing up the scenes- But thankfully I was informed that the “R” rating will stick. Hopefully the movie does well and proves to Dimension that you can make money with a hard R. The main reason I am nervous about the rating is because the movie opens with a “BANG”- literally! The film opens with an astonishing sequence as we follow the previous owner Ronald DeFoe through the house as he slaughters his entire family. The entire scene is quite gruesome and hard to watch, especially since it involves the murders of children. While Ronald is going room to room in the pitch black house, lightning flashes illuminating the scenes where he pops off each family member with his shotgun.

What really gives Amityville life is the films ability to create suspense. First off we get little hints left and right as to what happened before. A babysitter tells one of Kathy’s kids the tale about how Ronald killed their dog and then his entire family in the house. She drops just enough so we know that Kathy’s son is suspicious of George and can tell the same thing is happening again. I hate to reference this movie, but Amityville has a small similarity to Blair Witch is one way. In Blair the tension comes when it gets dark out- you know something is going to happen causing you to cramp up. Amityville uses the same trick in showing a clock. A simple clock provides a HUGE amount of suspense. Ronald Defoe killed his entire family at 3:15 and we see that every time the clock hits 3:15 in Lutz’s house everything is going to go crazy. We know something is coming, but what?! The unknown is sometimes more terrifying than what we actually see. In addition to it creating tension, it gives the movie more depth and entertainment throughout. Every night we get a brand new sh-t hits the fan scene! Forget a finale, the whole movie is a finale…

My friends and I had a few arguments on the way to the car about the FX. I thought they were well done and most of the ghost scenes were really cool. My friends on the other hand felt that Andrew Douglas’ commercial directing experiences bled onto this film, making it somewhat cheesy. But come on, do you want sweet FX work or do you want some lame 1922 Nosfertu overlayed effect? I thought it looked great and the scares were well places within the effects.

Another huge speculation is people wonder if Ryan Reynolds can pull of a serious role. Although he plays a serious part, he still is comical in various ways. But I enjoyed his funny side because it shows us one distinct side of George, so when he starts going crazy we just can’t believe such a nice guy can be so evil. It one scene he has Kathy’s son hold a block of wood in his hands as he cuts the wood! Then the kid starts crying and George grabs the kid by the face and yells, “We’re friends aren’t we!”

I can go on and on about the pros and the cons of the film, but the simple fact of the matter is that the remake is way better than the original. The new ending, which was recently put together, is really fantastic and some of the fat was trimmed. This Platinum Dunes flick should appeal to more people than the remake of Texas Chainsaw did, even though some scenes are still quite brutal. Check it out April 15th and enjoy your popcorn!

Official Score