The Amityville Horror movie review, Andrew Douglas, Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George. Review by Jeffrey M. Anderson
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A scene from 'The Amityville Horror'
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"The Amityville Horror"
*1/2 stars
86 minutes | Rated: R
WIDE: Friday, April 15, 2005
Directed by Andrew Douglas

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Jimmy Bennett, Rachel Nichols, Philip Baker Hall, Jesse James, Chloe Moretz, Rachel Nichols

Read our interview with Ryan Reynolds Ryan Reynolds (2002)

  • Ryan Reynolds
  • Melissa George
  • Philip Baker Hall
  • Jesse James

  •  LINKS for this film
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    With the original 'Amityville Horror' out in a new DVD box set, this inept remake seems all the more pointless

     by Jeffrey M. Anderson (Combustible Celluloid)

    The original "Amityville Horror" bored critics in 1979, but created a box office bonanza and spawned seven sequels.

    Now the studios have commissioned a straight-ahead remake. After all, why go to the bother of writing new stories, or for that matter, coming up with material for another sequel? This way no one needs to think of anything at all.

    Written by Scott Kosar (the 2003 "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake), the new "Amityville Horror" begins in 1974 with a flashback to the catalyst murders, steeped in darkness and lit by intermittent, flickering flashes of lightning.

    A year later, the Lutz family moves into the creepy house with the big eye-like windows. George (Ryan Reynolds) is the second husband of Kathy (Melissa George), who has three children from a previous marriage.

    George almost immediately begins hearing voices and going crazy, though Reynolds is too inept an actor to convey psychosis without help; he employs special drops and/or contact lenses to make his eyes look scary.

    Ghosts occasionally flit by or materialize, "Grudge"-like, with stringy hair and bulging eyes. When Kathy enlists the aid of a priest (Philip Baker Hall), he's attacked by a swarm of digital flies and runs for his life. Hall delivers perhaps the movie's best line: "Your house frightens me, Mrs. Lutz."

    The new "Amityville" owes a great deal to both "The Exorcist" and "The Shining" but lacks both Friedkin's attention to detail and Kubrick's supreme patience. Making his feature directorial debut, Andrew Douglas rushes through everything, building a monotonous, anxious hum without mixing it up or giving the audience a break.

    Still, "The Amityville Horror" has its moments. When the youngest boy (Jimmy Bennett) makes a late night bathroom visit, Douglas makes it known that he is about to scare us. But during this one sequence he takes his time, letting the tingles and prickles build for an extra moment before cutting loose.

    And Rachel Nichols has a star-making turn as the world's best/worst babysitter. Slinking around like a hippie sex kitten, she stretches and arches and purrs while frightening the children with murder stories. "I suck at babysitting," she muses, as an afterthought.

    Alas, the film's final third sinks into horror techniques so tired that even the later, straight-to-video "Amityville" sequels would have edited them out. How many times do the filmmakers expect the "it-was-only-a-nightmare" thing to work, anyway?

    Audiences will be better off staying home with MGM/UA's new DVD box set "The Amityville Horror Special Edition." It includes the first three films, plus a fourth bonus disc, "Amityville Confidential."

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