Director: Andrew Douglas
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Grace Moretz
Based on a true story
The Lutz family has found the perfect house for their family out on Long Island. The house come with a brutal history after the son of the DeFeo family murdered his parents and siblings a few years ago. The financial situation of the Lutz makes it impossible for them to say no to the house, so they decide to take it and move in to create a loving home for themselves and their three kids.
Shortly after they have settled in, every member of the family starts to see disturbing images in the house. George, who is the father of the family, starts to act weird and becomes aggressive towards the other family members and their daughter Chelsea starts to talk to one of the dead children from the DeFeo family. George’s wife Kathy tries her best to save the family before things go violent, but is struggling to reach George who seem to sink further and further into the darkness of the house.
The Amityville series had been buried for nearly ten years when MGM decides to remake it with this 2005 release. MGM felt that this release was justified after new information on the original events had come to light. George Lutz however was not happy with this and ended up suing MGM, a case that remained unsolved after Lutz died in 2006. Before he died he did describe this new film as “drivel”.
This version is a fast paced haunted house film with a lot of flashy scares and loud sounds. It throws in everything it can at the viewer to try to provide scares. I don’t think there are five minutes that go by without some paranormal events happening and it gets tedious and generic after the first half hour. I do understand the need to update a film and change it up from the original, but it does not hurt to have the characters get developed and in haunted house movies it usually works better with the “less is more” approach to the scary stuff.
They did change some of the story. This time George ends up being sort of a villain, while Kathy is the hero and they downplayed the role of the priests and ends the story differently. If someone were to cut out the horror scenes and just play the normal scenes with the family then we would end up with a very short movie. I’m not sure why, but almost every time there is a big budget remake of a classic horror movie, the job of directing it goes to an unknown young director. Andrew Douglas was chosen for this one and from what IMDB says, he only had one documentary under his belt before landing the job of directing this 19 million dollar production. He is not able to make it coherent and balanced. His career didn’t go sky high after this either and has only released a short movie since this one.
James Brolin was great in the original and the task of portraying George Lutz this time went to Ryan Reynolds. He falls short compared to Brolin, both in the acting and in the level of growing a full beard. We don’t really see the stages of George going over from a normal family guy to becoming a madman. He goes mental a little too fast and some more subtlety would have been appreciated. Melissa George plays Kathy Lutz and she doesn’t make much out of her character. The few emotional scenes she has is not done very well and I think she was the wrong actress for this part.
The Amityville remake ended up being a missed opportunity. The production values are quite high and the effects are slick, but the story and characters aren’t presented well to the viewer. It is a decent movie to watch for the younger horror crowd, but for most experienced genre viewers it is a very forgettable film.