This item originally appeared in the April 21, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.
Evil starts with a cold stare and a colder breath in MGM's "Amityville Horror" remake.
A grizzly bearded Ryan Reynolds (Blade: Trinity) and Melissa George (Down with Love) star as George and Kathy Lutz. Their working class family with big dreams has found a home in Long Island that was the scene of a grisly slaying a year earlier. You know it's bad when your realtor is too afraid to tour some parts of the manor.
Under the watchful eyes of the Amityville house, the Lutzes move in and are off to a great start. Things change when Reynolds' character catches a slight chill.
That chill evolves into seeing things, ethereal images of dead children and hearing voices in his head commanding him to "catch 'em and kill 'em."
"The Amityville Horror" is a remake of the 1979 hit based on a true story. It follows Hollywood's latest trend of ignoring original thought to piggyback off someone else's past cinematic work. Usually from the '70s it seems. "Amityville" is still a worthwhile, albeit short-lived, fright-show for movie goers.
Director Andrew Douglas' usage of strobe-like shots at the opening of the tale hooks the viewer into the massacre at the house.
He makes great use of the windows to give them and the house sentience without even overtly trying to do so. The balance between anxiety-building silence and outright fright noise is tended to well in "Amityville," sure to make even the manliest of movie goers jump once or twice.
The only thing Douglas does overtly is let his work be influenced by other horror features. It's easy to pick out "The Shining" and "The Exorcist" moments in the movie that will make the viewers roll their eyes, knowing they have seen the scenes before.
At least the acting is good.
Acting is handled well by Reynolds. His trip into madness is nothing on par with Nicholson's turn in "The Shining," but he is really growing as an actor and displaying another range of his ability in the film.
Melissa George's dealing with the stress and heartache her character goes through, as the movie plays, is done without over-acting.
There are a few subplots that go unexplained in the movie. Certain images used and the origin of the house's evil are thrown in for plot twists and fright devices, but actually distract the viewer from the rest of the story.
Still, "Amityville" is a good remake, a remake that doesn't need Jessica Biel running from a chainsaw in a wet T-shirt to keep the viewer interested throughout.
-- By BJ Lewis, Staff Writer