31 Days of Horror – ‘The Amityville Horror (2005)’

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The Amityville Horror (2005)  

Directed by: Andrew Douglas

Starring: Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George

Review by Eric Scot Lemons

Ah, Amityville Horror. What do you say about a film that has nothing to say? I have never seen the original but this one, starring Ryan Reynolds before he was likable, talented Ryan Reynolds, and was still trying to wash himself of the fetor heaped upon him by Two Guys and a Girl and a fucking Pizza Place.

Ryan Reynolds is a step-father in the 70’s, married to Melissa George. That is pretty much all we know. The set up is pretty cliche, for which I won’t really fault it considering this is a remake of the original “family moves into house and is terrorized by ghosts” story. But it definitely doesn’t expand or redefine the genre in any interesting way, instead opting to fester in its own mediocrity while borrowing heavily from films that did it much better; most notably Poltergeist and The Shining.

Speaking of The Shining, I had heard King disliked Kubrick’s casting of Jack Nicholson because he felt it wasn’t a stretch to see him going crazy. This is how I feel about the choice to make Ryan Reynolds a stepdad. When shit starts going crazy, and he starts being physically and verbally abusive toward his family, I didn’t suspect a supernatural force was behind it, because I just think that’s how stepdads are.

Ultimately, the film is the type of film you have seen a million times if you watch horror flicks. Family moves into house, things get wacky, child speaks to ghost, there is some demon that gets stronger, family tries exorcism or intervention which doesn’t work, then they have to fight for their lives, and they leave the house. It isn’t interesting and they show the ghosts far too often and with comically long takes. The key to a good horror flick, especially one dependent on jump-scares, is to keep shots of the monster very short, so that our brains can register the danger, yet not unravel its flaws. And this film had many, many flaws.

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