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The Amityville Horror
2005 - R - 100 Mins.
Director: Andrew Douglas
Producer: Michael Bay
Written By: Scott Kosar
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Jesse James, Phillip Baker Hall, Chloe Moretz
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.amityvillehorrormovie.com/
   

It's raining, it's pouring...
A horror remake of the 1979 original (which starred James Brolin, Margot Kidder, and Rod Steiger) 'The Amityville Horror' surrounds a family who moves into a house one year after a man killed his entire family, claiming he heard voices telling him to do so. The new owners soon begin experiencing odd supernatural occurrences and the father (Ryan Reynolds) begins to lose his bearings on reality. 'The Amityville Horror' is an effective remake, drenched in atmospheric lighting and a slowly building palpable sense of dread.

'The Amityville Horror' is the second remake by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company since the company's inception after 2003's 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.' Like 'Massacre', this film is written by Scott Kosar, who also wrote 'The Machinist.' Relative newcomer to the business, Andrew Douglas helms the production and does a capable job at generating fright on the part of the viewer.

The first element that director Douglas gets down pat is how he utilizes a mix of music and foreboding camera angles to garner tension even just as the new family is looking at the titular house as potential buyers. As the result of the supremely effective opening in which the family is murdered in mere minutes, we know there is something definitely off-kilter (to say the least) about the house and Douglas lets us know that without hitting us over the head with it. The jumpy behavior exhibited by the real estate agent (Annabel Armour) is enough to key the viewer into the house's "questionable" reputation. As soon as the family moves into the house things begin to become stranger and more frightening by the day (we are clued in by periodic title cards informing us of the day by day progression).

The film ups the scare quotient when the slutty babysitter hired by the family so the parents can go out gets trapped in the closet, leading to a bloodily terrifying encounter with the ghost of the youngest murdered member of the house's prior owners. I want to refrain from revealing anything more so I'll just say that what follows is a series of bloody images and viscerally tense moments. Douglas, along with cinematographer Peter Lyons Collister and editor Roger Barton generates some strikingly horrifying images that juxtapose blood and fleeting images of torture with an amount of skill Rob Zombie (who tried the same technique to terrible effect in 'House of 1000 Corpses') could only wish he had.

The film also benefits from solid performances. As the father of the new family, Ryan Reynolds ('Blade: Trinity') continues to widen his range away from appearing just in comedies, giving a suitably creepy and unhinged performance. While it doesn't approach the one given by Jack Nicholson in the similar 'The Shining,' it is still a nice effort by the increasingly versatile young actor. Melissa George ('Sugar and Spice') also gives a good performance, lending support as the harried and otherwise worried girlfriend soon to be wife (she just lost a husband before the film begins and has designs on marrying her new beau). The child actors, ranging from 12-year old Billy (Jesse James, 'The Butterfly Effect') to youngster Chelsea (Chloe Moretz), do an okay job, only occasionally succumbing to the typical problem among such actors, that of overacting during tense emotional moments.

'The Amityville Horror' is a tense and moody motion picture and by far the best entry in the haunted house sub-genre in what seems like ages.


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DVD CONTEST! We're giving away a copy of the AMITYVILLE HORROR Special Edition DVD. E-mail contests@movie-gurus.com with your name and address and we'll pick a winner by May 15, 2005. Put "AMITYVILLE DVD" in your subject line.

CHECK OUT: www.theamityvilletruth.com and
www.mgm.com/title_title.do?title_star=XXXSETAMITY for more about the DVD and the new movie and the truth behind the real Amityville murders.


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Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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