More noise than signal

The Amityville Horror

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

You’ll have to excuse me if I play my joker and half-ass my way out of a real review of this. If you could just rehash my by this point template spleen venting against poorly executed teen oriented horror (a la Wrong Turn, Jeepers Creepers 2, Darkness Falls or more recently Cursed) and merge it with the equally standard issue ‘needless remake’ rant (Get Carter, The Manchurian Candidate or the similarly Michael Bay produced Texas Chainsaw Massacre) I’d be much obliged. Thanks.

Still here? Jeez. Alright, alright. This is a rehash of the 1970’s ‘horror classic’ that started from a low point and went rapidly downhill with a series of cash-in sequels. The selling point was that this was supposedly based on real events, although I’d take that claim with an E.U. salt mountain. A small town is shocked by the bloody murder of a family while they lay in their beds, perpetrated by their own brother (I think. I really don’t give enough of a monkey’s to check, so please send and corrections to me c/o Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade). He claims that the voices told him to do it.

After the dust settles and the graves filled in, the scene of the crime goes back on the market. The fresh-faced Lutz family move in, Kathy (Melissa George)’s kids Billy (Jesse James), Michael (Jimmy Bennett) and Chelsea (Chloe Moretz) still not quite used to new father figure George (Ryan Reynolds) after their real daddy was died in a fashion I can’t quite remember. I think Jean-Claude Van Damme was involved somehow. Naughty Jean-Claude, naughty.

Swiftly the reason for the bargain basement deal becomes apparent as blood starts oozing from the electrical sockets and dead kids run around talking to Chelsea. While you might chalk the first one or two bizarre occurrences up to the stress of the ‘flit’ as we would say back home, the continued and increasingly severe nature of the supernatural shitstorm that consumes the Lutz family leaves one questioning why they didn’t get the hell out of Dodge long before the month they eventually lasted is out.

The bulk of the work involved in Les Neuvo Horror de Amityville falls squarely on Reynolds shoulders, as he falls increasingly under the influence of the malevolent spirits of the house. Reynolds, as you may remember, was about the only thing in Blade Trinity that was bearable. At least he’d put some effort in while all around him phoned home performances with disinterested stares into the middle distance. Here, it’s to his great credit that he appears genuinely menacing on occasion, given that he’s given one of the most hackneyed craptaculars of a script I’ve suffered through since, well, Cursed. Could someone please cast this man in something worth watching so I can figure out if he’s actually any good, or just good compared to the others around him? Thanks muchly.

I’ve produced scarier things from my nose than Michael Bay has produced here and while it’s temping to blame the original story for this outing’s shortcomings, it’d be more fitting to blame Bay for fronting the money to reheat an astonishingly stale and rotten story. Helming the exhumation is Andrew Douglas, who does little to help matters. If I see one more horror outing where an exorcism results in the Holy Water boiling due to the HEAT OF EXCRUCIATING EVIL, I’ll, well, be angry. Douglas’ last outing may well have been Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus but he can’t work miracles with this script. God, it’s no wonder I can’t convince anyone to pay me to write this crap full time. Ah well, it’s still a better line than any in the film.

No-one else does themselves any significant discredit, it’s not the actors fault that the script is predictable, diametrically opposite of scary on the Wheel of Terror and on occasion insultingly stupid. Studio execs and the original writer continue to insist that this is based on a real story, which is true if by ‘based on a real story’ you mean ‘is a complete fiction’. In fact, if it is true it’s even worse, as it means the Lutz family are very, very stupid people for staying so long in a house that’s obviously trying to kill them. I’ve little tolerance for fools, which is probably the cause of my self loathing.

Enough. The Amityville Horror is spared Cursed‘s zero rated fate because at least Reynolds tries, and because there’s an actress playing a babysitter who’s astonishingly pretty, and because I am the shallowest man on Earth. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

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