The legend behind the Amityville Horror is made up of scary stuff because it involved real people and a real place (112 Ocean Avenue). Alas, great horror stories don't always make great horror movies which we found out In 1979 when the first "Amityville Horror" was made. By today's standards it's a snooze fest and has been bested by countless films about the occult over the years.
The 2005 remake was only able to do so much with the material provided, and if you're familiar with the story then there's nothing here that's going to surprise you except for maybe a few minor scares first-time director Andrew Douglas was able to muster up with his R-rated feature debut.
The movie opens with George and Kathy Lutz (Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George), the stepfather and mother of three kids who find the real estate deal of a lifetime on 112 Ocean Avenue. "There's got to be a catch. There's always a catch," George insists after touring the property, and sure enough the agent reluctantly tells them that there was a "tragedy" not long ago when a young man killed his parents and four siblings with a shotgun after having heard voices inside his head telling him his family were demons.
Suddenly the music turns ominous and the gloomy shadows from the oak trees become apparent. Without noticing, George signs the contract and exclaims "we'll be eating drywall for weeks."
It doesn't take long after the family moves in for weird things to start happening. For one, George wakes up in the middle of the night and finds a ghost girl hanging from a noose with her head cocked. Wait a minute, weren't all the kids shot? Oh forget it.
The daughter, Chelsea (Chloe Grace Moretz), makes friends with the ghost girl (reminiscent of this year's Hide and Seek), windows keep flying open and a voice from the basement continually tells George to "kill 'em" every time the clock strikes 3:15 AM.
You'd think this would be enough to convince the Lutzs to bolt as far away from the house as possible (Chelsea tries to jump off the roof for crying out loud), but instead the man of the house does what every lead character in every modern horror film does: runs a bath that might have something other than water waiting for him in the tub.
It takes 28 days before George realizes he's supposed to take the Jack Torrance role from "The Shining" and hack his family to death, and until then we're treated to looping sequences of windows slamming, ominous whispers and the shadows of ghosts running through hallways that only the audience can see for the sole purpose of scaring the audience.
At this point the film is mostly noise and relies on quick cuts and scene-splicing, but comes nowhere near the level of insanity that was this year's Booeyman, a horror movie so inept it played out like a two-hour MTV music video.
Ryan Reynolds is already being dismissed as a no-talent with only a good looking body to show, and it's true he isn't yet ready for serious roles. He's good at being sarcastic and the funny man, though it was overdone in last year's Blade: Trinity and isn't utilized enough in this film. Basically he has no business trying to do the mega-mood swing that Jack Nicholson perfected in "The Shining," and the fact that he wields an ax and peers through the crack of a barricaded hallway door makes it that much more painfully obvious.
If there's something to commend the film for it's that it accepted an R-rating and used it to at least provide marginally chilling images of the ghosts; especially of the little girl who does something immediately before the end credits, in a startling sequence that begs for a better movie that never evolved beforehand.
Here's a look at this year's current horror film breakdown:
1. The Ring Two C+
2. The Amityville Horror C
3. Hide and Seek C-
4. White Noise C-
5. Cursed D
6.Alone in the Dark D-
7. Boogeyman F