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The Amityville Horror (2005)
Directed by Andrew Douglas Screenplay by Scott Kosar
Almost thirty years later and a lot has changed since the days of scaring with stuffed pigs and slime oozing through the walls. What was once an old-fashioned Indian burial ground story turned into an ancient and urban legend of a man by the name of Jeremiah Katchem having killed on the land and thus, the ‘real’ cause behind everything going on around the property. Where do they come up with this stuff? Funny enough that despite a cut of 30 minutes and the budget being over 4 times of the original picture that this film still grossed about 20 million less. Or I suppose, only funny to myself. I only state because whenever discussing remakes I usually hear this being one of the fan favorites in comparison to others floating around. Which I will agree with if only for certain aspects here and there.
5. The Cast: You would think that after such time passing, more people might find themselves not as easily believing the hype associated with a story such as this. Though it seemed to have the opposite effect as everyone on board the remake seemed very into the ‘history’ of the house. Somewhat adamant that they were making the accurate account of the Lutz’s. Though I had long been a fan of Ryan Reynolds from when Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place aired; humorous with many thanks to him. His serious roles being either hit or miss but his execution of George Lutz by far, a personal favorite. Through the commentary he as well commented on being able to see his contacts (since people love pointing out mistakes). But in preparing for the role stating that he spent as least amount of time with the children to maintain that distance. Though his intensity used in the role was what I was most impressed with; many of his little quips used throughout improvised.
Melissa George was great throughout however nothing I necessarily thought made the remake stand out. Notice how the family turned from brunettes to blond. The children; Jesse James, (Billy) Michael (Jimmy Bennett) and Chelsea Lutz (Chloë Grace Moretz). As stating in the previous review, each child had more interaction within the film and were able to attribute more than just filling an empty space. The scene in which Reynolds shells out his discipline for Billy was an emotional day on set and the small slap was an accidental improvised part. Though it was Moretz’s character that was able to stand out for her first major role. Besides being absolutely adorable and creepy all at once, she was also pretty brave. The scene in which you see her on top of the house was shot in three days and while she worked closely with a stunt double, performed the majority of the 70 foot stunt herself. Though Michael Bay was on set for those days, I loved how scared everyone looked rather then herself. The cameo from Philip Baker Hall as Father Callaway was much shorter than expected, though what the role actually called for. Just enough to show an intention of helping but not overdoing the role by following him when all the action should have been kept at the house.
4. The Transitions of the Character from Start to Finish: Despite this film being shorter they were able to incorporate much more concerning establishing the relationship before eventually moving in. Showing the ‘harsh’ conditions they were in at the beginning as the family was crammed into a much smaller home. As well as the displacement felt between Reynolds character and the children. Asking if they would have to call him ‘daddy’ and how Billy asked what the point of praying was when it didn’t help him keep his real father alive. After settling into the house the effects are felt almost immediately. Of which the entire relationship between the family begins to alter as George becomes noticeable different. Insisting on handing out harsh punishments, moving down to the basement for plenty of quality time with himself and ensuring to take off his shirt as often as able. Following him further into his spiral of madness as his curiosity widens and he breaks through a wall in the basement. Discovering an underground prison that was used as a torture chamber, of sorts. While the movie didn’t seem to focus primarily on the history of the house or the events that actually happened, the reason I think Reynolds was able to shine so well was because it centered around his character. He made a complete transformation, for character and Actor, which paid off and may have been a great central factor while viewing. I just would have liked to see them not get so off topic.
3. How they Captured the Fear of the House: The beginning of the film was a great way to reel in the audience. The sepia tint and way of Ronnie going about made the terror genuine. Especially having Jodie interact with him in the closet right before the intro. The photos and video used were half real and part simulated. While most people believe the ‘High Hopes’ sign to have been added, it was a replica of one used in the actual Lutz’s yard. And while a movie may attempt as much as it can to emulate the 70’s, it’s never better than the real thing. However the color scheme throughout the film had a better setting for a Horror movie as well as all the added scenes thrown in for our pleasure. Such as the babysitter scene which may have been ‘enjoyable’ in the original but was completely redone to satisfaction. Jodie (Isabel Conner) certainly made for a better ghost that a stuffed velour pig and when she grabs Lisa (Rachel Nichols) finger to enter through her gunshot wound made for a rather fun scene. Closing the film with a closeup of her as she’s dragged back into the house with everything going back to its original place; as the house readies for its next victims.
2. Level of Action Incorporated into the Film: Well if it’s action you wanted then action you got! Laying on the implied past of torturous wrongdoings rather thick. But before even getting to the end they were sure to incorporate the fierce beginning following Ronnie as he approached each family member. After George begins feeling symptoms he goes on a rampage; accidentally killing their dog and seeing faces turn demonic. Though they were sure to relieve the tension with periodic comedic relief, it’d be hard to imagine such not being the case with as naturally a funny man as Reynolds. The scene with Chelsea on the roof was rather tense and the moment when Kathy’s hair gets locked into the propeller worked well. Though the entire end became too much with George’s dream sequence (with the shower of blood) and Kathy discovering the history of the house and visiting the Pastor as everything is put together in a manner of forcing it all at once while simultaneously going through what George had going on inside his head. They through in a trick ending, which did have me going for a bit, and eventually leave the house in their boat. At least the changed the mode of transportation.
1. How the story evolved over the years: After going through so much of the history of the house it’s difficult t to watch the remake and not find yourself laughing at the mere implications of their version. The special features had a discussion of the DeFeo murders and the real accounts, featuring a prominent name in the realm of the supernatural. Having seen the so-called Psychic, Lorraine Warren sporadically roaming about on television, I’ve never felt much conviction from hearing her speak. I myself feel rather indifferent on the subject as far as what I choose to believe. I certainly don’t dispute life after death but know too many people make a living trying to convince others of such when they are as phony as the spirits they feel. Warren never seems genuine so my eyes cannot help but roll with whatever claims I hear her make. They also spoke with an officer and the medical examiner that performed the autopsies on the DeFeo’s. Clear that they both felt no validity in such when they were just as present. However if sticking to the story that it was the land of which was ‘haunted’ and not the actual house, I can see why they would have their doubts. Because unlike others, Lorraine had claimed that whatever was in the house had followed her and her husband. But I’m not buying what they can’t seem to sell anyway.
They also added an element into the story-line involving Jeremiah Katchem. Of which there was an John Katchem and claims of him fleeing Salem and finding solace within Amityville. However there were several John Katchem’s reportedly and the claims of him being involved in witchcraft streamed from the families own research, concluding that such was not the case. But it did make for an interesting approach to the story. It just makes me wonder how far they’ll go for the next remake. It may be for a next generation, years down, but I’m sure they’ll eventually make their rounds and try messing up all the classics once again.