The Amityville Horror (2005) – Review

4 Stars

There may be people who overlook the Ryan Reynolds performance in The Amityville Horror – who think he isn’t really acting. But the performance is one of the reasons the movie works so well. He is not a wise-cracking action hero this time, although he has the physique like one. He’s a confused and frightened innocent, a man betrayed by the structure of reality itself. In his everyman vulnerbility , he opens the way for The Amityville Horror to be more than simply a violence and special effects extravaganza.

There is a lot of jumps and energy in the movie, and almost every shot seems to embody some sort of scare tactic. This is one of the most unsettling and visually interesting horror movies in a long time. But the plot, based on a book and subsequent film of the same name, centers on an intriguing idea: What happens to a family that moves into a home known to be haunted? Reynolds character repeats himself several times throughout the film with the mantra, “There aren’t any bad houses, just bad people”. He may have a point but nearly all the previous residents and now the young Lutz family are experiencing paranormal incidents.

After getting a get deal the financially struggling Lutz clan move into a beautiful Victorian era house that was the scene of one of the most horrific crimes in local history. Within weeks of moving into their supposed dream home, things begin to go awry. Especially for George (Reynolds), the stepfather to three young children and happily married to their mother Kathy (Melissa George). Soon George is snapping at the kids and imposing a strict discipline, that includes torture and verbal abuse. Every night at 3:15 a.m.. he raises out of bed like a man possessed, slowly his mind begins to play demonic tricks on him.

The haunted house setup has been used uncountable times in some very shoddy productions. The Amityville Horror manages to sidestep most of the pitfalls, that trip up filmmakers in this genre. Director Andrew Douglas hurls the pace along, the film runs 90 minutes but feels shorter than a hour. Effective sound design, cinematography, writing and especially casting make The Amityville Horror a must-see. This is the rare instance in which the reboot is far superior to the original in every aspect.

Director: Andrew Douglas
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Chloë Grace Moretz

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