Opening 21 Apr 2005
Writing credits: Jay Anson, Sandor Stern, Scott Kosar
Principal actors: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloë Grace Moretz
George (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy (Melissa George) Lutz buy an old Dutch colonial house in Amityville, New York. The price is incredibly low, because two years earlier, six members of the Defeo family met death there, murdered in their beds by the 20-year son. Upon moving into 112 Ocean Street, George, Kathy, and her three small children by a previous marriage notice some mighty strange events. The refrigerator magnets move themselves; the babysitter is locked into a closet and terrorized by ghosts; and the boat house door bangs in the wind. The little daughter befriends an invisible playmate Jody who sends her out to walk on the roof. Poor George, already under a strain to achieve super step-dad status, suffers the most. Mysterious voices whisper to him; shivering, he compulsively chops wood to feed the fire; the blood of Harry the dog is on his hands. Kathy realizes that the family is falling apart and seeks out the local priest. He had once been attacked by a frenzied swam of flies when trying to bless the house, so agrees that it has an evil influence and must be abandoned before history repeats itself. On the 28th day the fear escalates.
It’s been 26 years since the original Amityville Horror and six sequels were filmed. The new version by Andrew Douglas is possibly better than any of them – a solid B-movie, as some critics say when they refuse to admit that they enjoyed watching nonsense. The remake is more colorful, more modern (a Manga-like ghost child), quicker (with a much smaller role for the priest) and scarier (escape over the roof in the rain). But, most of the original story is there: the tense music, the witching hour at 3:15 a.m., windows stuck shut, and dripping blood. Based on the book by Jay Anson, the Defeo murders actually occurred on November 13, 1974. George and Kathy really lived to tell their story, although some people call it a hoax. No one in the house after the Lutz family ever experienced annoyances other than crowds of tourists. This movie is good entertainment for scary movie fans. Margot Kidder, who played Kathy in the original (available at The First Videothek in Hamburg), said, “It’s always on the edge of serious camp.” (Becky Tan)