Dir: Andrew Douglas. US.2005. 89 mins.
Michael Bay's low budget operation Platinum Dunes had asmash hit two years ago with its remake of seminal 1974 horror movie TheTexas Chainsaw Massacre and it should scorehit #2 with its remake of 1979 horror classic The Amityville Horror. Seasoned UK commercials director Andrew Douglasturns in a slick, scare-a-minute feature debut which is hardly the subtlest ofchillers but nevertheless one which efficiently delivers the goods.
If new Chainsaw could gross$80m in North America, new Amityville has every chance of equaling that, and itshould better Chainsaw overseas with its more recognizable trademark
Like Chainsaw, TheAmityville Horrror is inspired by atrue story
Douglas uses the factualtrappings (and period stylings) as a launchpad for some impressive frightscenes, stylish use of the house location itself and high-impact visualtrickery (creepy hallucinations, flash image horror from the house's history).If that doesn't work in delivering scares, Steve Jablonsky's pounding scoredoes the rest of the work. At only 89 minutes, it doesn't waste any time ingetting the job done.
The film opens with thedisturbing true-life prologue in which we see the events of the night of Nov13, 1974, at the large Dutch colonial house on Ocean Avenue in Amityville, LongIsland. Ronnie DeFeo Jr wakes up at 3.15 in the morning in his makeshift cellarbedroom and, driven by "voices", proceeds to slay his parents and four siblingsin their beds.
A year later, George andKathy Lutz (played by Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George) can't believe theirluck when they find the house on sale at such a rock-bottom price. Althoughthey are warned that there were killings there, they nevertheless move in withtheir three children.
Almost immediately Georgestarts hearing voices while their young daughter Chelsea (Moretz) asserts thatshe has a new friend in Jodie, the little girl who was slaughtered by RonnieDeFeo. As the next month wears on, things only gets worse: a babysitter(Nichols) is locked in a closet with the ghost of Jodie, Chelsea finds herselfperilously walking on the roof of the house goaded, she says, by Jodie, Georgestarts experiencing mood swings, violent sickness and extreme cold and he movesdown to the cellar to be near the heater.
By day 28 of living in thehouse, the family is close to breaking point. An exorcism by the hapless localpriest (Hall) ends in failure and Kathy finds out in the local library that aprevious owner was a monstrous killer. When she gets back to the house,however, George has become fully possessed and is primed to act on the voices'instructions to kill the family.
Reynolds and George turn infairly sophisticated work here, the former practicing some welcome restraint asa loving husband and father struggling with the evil presence within him.
Prod cos: Platinum Dunes, Radar Pictures, MGM Pictures,Dimension Films.
US dist: MGM.
Int'l dist: MiramaxInternational, BVI, MGM/20th Century Fox.
Exec prods: Ted Field, DavidCrockett.
Prods: Michael Bay, AndrewForm, Brad Fuller.
Scr: Scott Kosar, based on thebook by Jay Anson and the screenplay by Sandor Stern.
DoP: Peter Lyons Collister.
Prod des: Jennifer Williams.
Eds: Christian Wagner, RogerBarton.
Mus: Steve Jablonsky.
Main cast: Ryan Reynolds,Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Grace Moretz, Rachel Nichols