Tuesday, October 27, 2009

30 Days of Fright - 26: The Amityville Horror (2005)

Some people just don't get the recognition they deserve. I've long thought that Robin Hardy (the director of the original Wicker Man) should have gotten an Oscar for that film. Thomas M. Disch, the American author of "The M.D." and many other fine works, doesn't get half the recognition he deserves, even after his death which is usually the fast-track to the big time. And the bloke in Cafe India in Tullamore who makes the Jalfrezi sauce should be given a medal for his fine work.

To this list I must unfortunately add Mellissa George, the fine actress who has graced many great horror movies with her presence, featuring as Stella in 30 Days of Night, and as Helen in wΔz, as well as turning up in Dark City and (apparently) Grey's Anatomy and Home & Away (not that I'd know, never having seen these shows, of course!). She's back again in the 2005 version of The Amityville Horror as Kathy, the poor cow married to George Lutz.

The 2005 version of The Amityville Horror starts off in roughly the same manner as it's 1970's predecessor. A family is brutally murdered in their beds one night by one of the kids. The action skips forwards a few years and along come the Lutz family, Geaorge and his missus Kathy and her kids from a previous marriage. They are able to buy th house at a discount price due to the killings putting most buyers off.

Things are grand at first, it's a big house so there's plenty of space and the grounds are impressive so life is good for the Lutz's. However, George starts to act strangely, getting distant and waking up in the middle of the night for no good reason. He gets more and more irritable, especially as he finds it increasingly difficult to stay warm, and he begins to take things out on the rest of the family. Soon, the kids are getting caught up in things too, as the youngest has a new imaginary friend, who may not be imaginary at all, and the situation gets progressively worse in and around the house, until the Lutz's are in danger of becomming the next family of victims...

George & Kathy go to play house - but if they're out here, then who turned on the lights?

There's a lot right with the new Amityville and there's a lot wrong too. Firstly, Melissa George is excellent and to be fair, Ryan Reynolds as Geoarge Lutz isn't bad either, I just wish he didn't go around showing off his overly chiselled torso every chance he got (it's demeaning to us good looking fellas!). The big problem with Reynolds is as soon as he begins to establish himself as George Lutz, he pulls a face and he's right back to being Van Wilder all over again, no amount of beard can ever cover that up.

The remake takes a lot of liberties with the Amityville story, for example moving the house further into the countryside and thus making it more remote, adding several hundred years to the age of the house so that it can have much more of a sordid history and therefore shift the blame for the trouble in the house away from Ronnie Defeo (the real life killer) to the unsettled spirits of the indians buried on the ground the house is built on. Yep, that's right, an Indian Burial Ground.

It's unfortunate that Amityville gets bogged down in devices like these as the first half or so is outstanding, with some proper scary moments up to about the point where the babysitter is telling the story to the kids. There are effects that will make you jump and certain scenes that leaves a lingering sense of dread - then we get into George's troubles and the wheels come off the wagon.

The real George Lutz died in 2006 but did get a chance to see the remake. He fucking hated it, calling the film "drivel" and then sueing the film makers. I shall be a little kinder...

One Thumb Up and One Thumb Down for the remade Amityville Horror.

To find out more (and there's loads more to find out) then take a gander at:
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0384806/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amityville_Horror_(2005_film)
For a far-out and wacky take on the story, check out The Amityville Murders: http://www.amityvillemurders.com/
Another nice look at the story can be found here: http://www.prairieghosts.com/amityville.html

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