Monday, May 2, 2011
Amityville Horror All Right!
The Amityville Horror, written by Scott Kosar, based on the screenplay by Sandor Stern, based on the book by Jay Anson, based on material by George and Kathleen Lutz, directed by Andrew Douglas, starring Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jesse James and Philip Baker Hall (2005): The original Amityville Horror (1979) was a financially successful, dramatically awful horror movie whose only greatness may lie in the Eddie Murphy comedy bit it spawned ("GET OUT!" "Too bad I gotta go!").
The "true story" it's based on has since turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by the Lutz family, though the original murders were tragically real. Subsequent residents of the house in question, in Suffolk County, New York, have reported nothing unusual about the house other than the hordes of tourists that stop by to look at it. Hoo ha!
This movie looks a lot better than the original, not much of a feat considering how crappily 70's the cinematography was in that original shitfuck. It's shorter, which pretty much eliminates any building of suspense. And it cuts the one scene I (and Stephen King in Danse Macabre) would cite as the first film's one moment of fully realized suburban terror, an incident in which the House appears to steal much needed money from George Lutz, cash needed to pay for a wedding. That was a good scene. So they don't even try to duplicate it.
So far as I can tell, the screenwriter realized how bad the original material was pretty early on and so decided to remake The Shining instead. I shit you not. So this is basically The Shining as written and directed by moronic hacks and produced by Michael Bay (seriously on that last one). Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George are spectacularly miscast as a young couple in the 1970's -- Reynolds's hairless hard-body alone pretty much erases all suspension of disbelief.
Philip Baker Hall struggles manfully with the underwritten priest part which caused Rod Steiger to devour the scenery in the original, and we don't even get the spectacularly bizarre bit involving Kathy Lutz's nun sister. Or the bit where the demon, its red eyes clearly light bulbs, perches at the window to glare at the Lutzes. Or the crazy part about the doorway to Hell in the basement.
Come to think of it, at least that godawful 1970's movie was sorta fun; this one is just sorta boring. The remake does have a terrific bit of fucked up continuity, though. At the end, Kathy Lutz spends all day at the Amityville library researching the house. When she returns home that night, George has turned into Mr. Cuckoobanana. What seems to be a real-time ten minutes of shenanigans ensues which ends with the family taking off in their motorboat...at which point the sun comes up. Because in Amityville, the nights are about 20 minutes long. Really not recommended.