The Amityville Horror

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The Amityville Horror
Review (6/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

"In The Amityville Horror, the ghost told them to get out of the house. White people stayed in there...a ghost say get the fuck out I would just tip the fuck out the door. They looked in the toilet bowl with the blood in the toilet and said, "That's peculiar." I woulda been in the house and said, "Oh baby, this is beautiful. We got a chandelier hanging up there, kids outside playing, it's a beautiful neighbourhood. This is really nice."


"Too bad we can't stay baby."

- Eddie Murphy, Delirious

That probably best sums up my thoughts on the whole Amityville Horror phenomenon, but I suppose after seeing the remake I can sort of understand why they didn't leave right away. It would probably take a few days for it to actually sink in that the house you just bought is haunted. The Lutz family lasted only 28 days in the haunted house - probably 27 1/2 days too long.

The Amityville Horror stars Ryan Reynolds as George Lutz, the unlucky chap who moves into the infamous house on Ocean Avenue with his wife and her three young children. It was just less than a year earlier when Ronald Defeo murdered his parents and four siblings in the middle of the night and later claimed that "voices" told him to do it. Right from the day that the Lutz family moved into their new house, bizarre events started unfolding. The movie depicts such things as strange sounds being heard in the house, magnets on the fridge being rearranged into not so friendly phrases (ketcham & kill 'em - not something I would like to see on my fridge anytime soon), a mysterious new friend named "Jodie" whom young Chelsea Lutz befriends, a priest getting attacked by flies, ghosts popping up all over the place, children's faces changing into demons and mysterious balloons popping up all over the place. Just events that you wouldn't expect at your average suburb mansion. Things come to a head when George's personality slowly deteriorates and he becomes possessed by the evil spirits in the house and seems to have a plan to re-enact the horrible crimes of Ronald Defeo.

After seeing this movie, I'm still not 100% sure how to feel about it. Sure it was scary at times, but the movie didn't really give you that spine-chilling feeling from start to finish. But it sure makes you feel uneasy. It was also funny at times - which was perhaps a bit inappropriate in some scenes. The slutty babysitter was ridiculous, and in other scenes I got a good laugh. (The wood-chopping incident was rather humourous for some reason.) There were a small handful of scenes that are sure to make you jump in your seat but I really think I was looking for a creepier movie from beginning to end.

As for comparing it to the original, well, I think that might be a bit unfair for me to do. I have seen the original (many years ago) but can't really remember too much about it - maybe just a few scenes. I think that my brain has been fried too much over the years from a lack of sex and too many hits in the noggin' playing hockey. But from what I understand, this remake was different in many respects from the original movie, and not totally true to the actual events that happened to the Lutz family. In fact, in doing a bit of research for this movie (yes - I do some research at times as long as it does not involve falling asleep at my computer) I found this pretty cool website that includes an interesting article on the "real" George Lutz and to be quite honest, reading that article is probably more creepy than the actual movie. You can find that article on the website (strangely enough, this website is no longer working, just an hour after I took a look at it - very creepy indeed) and there are plenty of other websites out there with some interesting information on the whole story.

As for the movie, well, I suppose it was okay. As I said earlier, probably not as scary as I would have liked it to be but still some pretty good "jumpy" moments. I thought the acting was decent - even Ryan Reynolds, who had a pretty creepy presence in the movie. (Although the dude who played the priest wasn't really too convincing to me as a priest - or even a scared priest for that matter.) I suppose my only other concern with the movie would be that, from what I have read, it really didn't totally stick to the facts of what happened at Amityville. Maybe if it did, the movie would have been a bit better. I also have to point out that the movie runs barely 90 minutes which was nice.

Overall, The Amityville Horror might be worth a single viewing for someone looking to get a few cheap thrills. It's short enough to keep you interested and a lot better than some of the other horror duds that have come out in the last few months. (See The Grudge and The Ring Two.) But if you are looking to find out what actually did happen during those horrific 28 days that the Lutz family was terrorized, apparently you might want to read the book or look on the internet because despite the fact that The Amityville Horror introduces itself as "based on a true story", from my great in-depth research that is not entirely true.


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