Amityville Horror just plain horrible

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ever think your house was haunted?

In 1975, the Lutz family fled their upstate New York home, claiming that they were terrorized by demonic forces. Their story turned into a wildly popular novel entitled The Amityville Horror. The book spawned a film and two sequels in the late 70s and early 80s.

Now, on the 30th anniversary, comes the remake of the original. While Ill concede that the film has its moments stylistically, it is still a rather pointless journey into an already tiresome genre.

The Amityville Horror begins with a son going through the house one stormy November night, methodically murdering his parents and four siblings.

Flash forward to a year later, and George and Kathy Lutz (Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George) decide the three-story house is the perfect place to begin their marriage and raise Kathys three children from a previous marriage.

The joy quickly turns to terror, as George (Reynolds) starts behaving more and more strangely with his antics becoming more menacing with each passing day.

Kathy eventually turns to a local priest for help and soon discovers that the house has a very tragic and dark past.

I will admit that The Amityville Horror is well-made for what it is. There is an element of suspense and some moments of genuine scares.

The Amityville Horror could have gotten a boost from a better cast, but we are left with a couple of bland performances in the leads. Reynolds still seems to be stuck in Van Wilder mode, while George just doesnt have any emotional range whatsoever.

My biggest problem with The Amityville Horror is the story, which just seems archaic by todays standards of horror. Granted, part of the familiarity does stem from vaguely remembering watching the original on cable when I was a kid, but it doesnt help that the basic concept has been covered in much better films (The Shining immediately comes to mind as a classic telling of a deranged father in a haunted house).

As a result, this remake doesnt enhance the original it only makes it painfully obvious that this house has gotten way more publicity than it deserves.

Discount dandy of the week

This weeks discount dandy is The Aviator (A), the best film of 2004.

Directed by Martin Scorcese, The Aviator follows Howard Hughes from his filming of Hells Angels through his only flight of the Blue Spruce in 1947.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hughes, and while he wouldnt have been my initial choice, he does manage to give one of his best performances since Whats Eating Gilbert Grape?

There is some nice supporting work as well including Alan Alda, Alec Baldwin, and Cate Blanchett, who won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her marvelous turn as Katherine Hepburn.

The Aviators biggest strength comes from Scorceses direction. There was a reason The Aviator swept the technical awards at the Oscars it was a well-made movie. But the joy of The Aviator was that it was well-made, and was also was quite entertaining. I still have a hard time believing the Academy failed to reward Scorcese for creating a film that never felt like anything in his already astounding resume.

The Aviator opens Friday at the Plaza 6, where all movies are $1.50.

Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton aint afraid of no ghosts. Still, if you need assistance with your paranormal problems contact someone else. If you want to talk movies, e-mail him at

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