The Original: The Amityville Horror (1979)
The Remake: The Amityville Horror (2005)
George and Kathy Lutz are a growing family looking for a new place to live. George married into a family with three kids and he is starting a new contracting business on Long Island. When Kathy finds an uncharacteristically affordable new home for the family in Amityville, the brood uproots and takes residence in a home with secrets and a history of evil and death.
I’ve seen multiple interpretations of The Amityville Horror, especially the original film starring Margot Kidder and James Brolin and George and Kathy Lutz. The original film had some relatively creepy moments, but there wasn’t a lot on-screen to see other than George’s slow descent into murderous rage. There are a couple of memorable visual moments, but the original succeeded more in the horror that the viewer created in his or her mind.
The remake stars Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George as the Lutz’s. Reynolds is charming as George and Melissa George is sweet as Kathy. Reynolds seems to be holding back a lot in his performance because he is so naturally charming. There wasn’t much in their scenes together that really gave a sense of connection between the two of them.
The film hits many of the narrative tropes and moments from the original film like the youngest daughters friendship with the spectral Jody and the hidden room in the basement of the house, but the biggest problem the remake has is its insistence in showing everything and leaving nothing to the imagination. The film has little to no faith in the story its trying to tell so it decides to show everything.
The first few minutes of the film are devoted to the previous residents of the house, the ill-fated DeFeo family. It does this by showing Jody (Ronny DeFeo’s little sister) instead of alluding to her. There is also an unnecessary and ridiculous story added in about the house being a former church where an evil reverend used to torture indians. It’s a dumb and late addition that adds nothing to the overall story other than a convenient boogeyman. The fact that it is added at all makes the ending anticlimactic.
While there are some interesting visuals in this remake, the need to pad out the story and add elements that don’t work just makes this remake a jumbled mess with no scares or tension.