Thursday, June 9, 2011

Canon Movie Review: The Amityville Horror (2005)

This movie review is actually the start of a mini Ryan Reynolds marathon here at The Canon Review. See, the other day I was chilling in the pool with a few peeps, and when the topic of Ryan Reynolds came up, I mentioned that I had not seen many of his movies at all. Well, they laughed at me and called me names, and vowed to never speak to me again unless I watched at least four of his movies and wrote up a review on each one. So, in an effort to win back the respect I have lost, here is the first of four Ryan Reynolds movies to be reviewed this week, the 2005 remake The Amityville Horror. Distributed by MGM and Dimension Films, and directed by Andrew Douglas (a first time director who hasn't directed another film since), The Amityville Horror stars Reynolds, Melissa George, Phillip Baker Hall, Jesse James, Chloe Moretz, and Rachel Nichols. In The Amityville Horror, the Lutz family (with Reynolds as George Lutz and George as Kathy) stumble across what they consider to be their dream house. Despite hearing that a brutal murder took place in the same house years ago, the Lutzes decide to buy the house anyway, figuring what's the worse that can happen? Well, as the movie illustrates, a lot can happen. A few notes about this film:

- Although the book 'The Amityville Horror' is supposedly based on a true story, this version bears little resemblence to the original source material.  Yes, the characters are still named the Lutzes and they live in a haunted house in Long Island, but this version has the father go crazy a la Jack Torrance in The Shining, to the point where I kind of expected Reynolds to chop through the door with an ax and yell "Here's Johnny!" The actual George Lutz wasn't really pleased with Reynolds' portrayal of him, so he decided to sue the makers of the movie. I don't really know what the result of the lawsuit was, but Lutz passed away not long after filing suit.

- The Amityville Horror was directed by Andrew Douglas, but it was also produced by Michael Bay, and this film has Bay's influence all over it. As such, the film looks sharp and there are lots of special effects thrown in there seemingly just to throw them in there. Since the movie's script was kind of thin, Douglas decided to compensate by throwing nearly every horror movie cliche in that he could think of. From maggots on the wall, to visions of blood spewing everywhere, to an attack by a bunch of flies, to George nearly being drowned in the bathtub for whatever reason, this film tries hard to fit in as much cliches as possible. Also, the script writers decided that a ghost of one of the murder victims, a little girl named Jodi, would make a great addition to the story, so they threw her in there so she could torture a mean babysitter from her life. What fun!

- As far as the acting goes, I'll be kind and say that it wasn't too bad. Reynolds was decent as George Lutz. Yes, he was basically doing an impression of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but at least he was halfway convincing as a man that had lost his mind. Although I get the feeling that he was cast not only because of his acting talents, but because of his abs, as he is shirtless for almost half the movie. Also, for some reason, George begins to have an obsession with chopping firewood, which I guess is meant to be a sign that a man is losing his mind. As Kathy Lutz, Melissa George was competent enough, although the script mainly portrayed her as little more than a hapless victim throughout the majority of the film. The child actors (James, Moretz, and Jimmy Bennett), aren't too bad, I suppose.

- However, if I was George Lutz and I had inherited a brood like that after marrying Kathy, I might go insane after a while myself. Michael (Bennett) is a strange little kid, but he's the least of George's problems. The oldest one, Billy, is not very fond of George and spends most of the movie whining about how he's old enough to do this or that or whatever, while the daughter Chelsea is seemingly possessed by a dead girl to the point where she nearly jumps off the damn roof, and then screams at her mother after she denies the existence of the dead girl. Worse yet, the dang dog won't stop barking and somehow finds his way into the boathouse every night. Yeah, the house being haunted may not have helped George's state of mind, but the kids and the dog did him no favors either.

- One of the more ridiculous sideplots of the movie involved the babysitter (Nichols). It starts will Billy quibbling about not needing a babysitter to the point where you want George to send Billy out to cut some more firewood so he can get the hell off the screen, and then here comes the babysitter, looking as if she came out of the pages of Young Hooker Monthly. Instead of sending this girl away, George makes some crack to Billy about wanting a sitter now and the couple goes on their merry way. While at the house, the babysitter smokes some pot, hangs out on Billy's bed and seems to want to jump the little tyke's bones before telling Billy about the murders that took place here. She then goes up to Chelsea's room, and she's saying something about Jodi not liking her or something, and eventually Billy makes a dare with the sitter to go into the closet where Jodi was murdered. Well, she goes in there, and here's Jodi. Naturally, the door will not open, so the sitter's in there with a crazed Jodi, whom for some reason makes the sitter feel her bullet hole and causes all sort of fast-cut chaos before the sitter is wheeled out shaking on a stretcher. You know what? Describing it isn't enough, so WHO WANTS TO SEE IT?

Overall, I'm not a fan of this movie. At times, the movie jumped around at a breakneck pace, so you never got any real sense of what George and Kathy were like before all the craziness started happening. The movie relied way too much on special effects and horror cliches, and the actors had little to do but just react to whatever CGI madness they were supposed to react to. Also, for what is supposed to be a 'true story', there are way too many elements of the story that are too remarkable to be true. At the end of the day, what you get is a mediocre at best horror film that is short on story and horror, but not short of special effects. I'd give it a 3 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future posts on this blog, or thoughts about this movie, then share those either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

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