TBT: The Amityville Horror (2005)

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My concept for TBT has yet again proven itself to be worthwhile with today’s entry. This Thursday I watched a film I could have sworn was actually good years ago. I know, I know. This month was supposed to be inclusive of nothing but GOOD horror films — not bad, not even mediocre. Good ones. But I say again, going back in time and rewatching films I haven’t laid eyes on in years has proven to be beneficial. Some films take a second viewing to make their impact (even if those viewings were parceled out over the course of almost a decade). I suppose if I wanted to truly keep to this theme of purportedly “good” horror films, I would have just crafted a review based on my first watch, but seeing that I couldn’t remember anything at all that happened, I decided to give it a quick re-watch and see what came of it. Apparently, not a great deal of excitement. 

Today’s food for thought: The Amityville Horror (2005)

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Release: April 15, 2005

[Netflix]

Ryan Reynolds. . . .in a horror film? How is this possibly going to gel at all? When I was eight years younger, I calmly brushed such concerns aside, slipped the disc into the player and sat patiently, watching as the film opened in considerably grim fashion. A bloody opening scene explains the events that would set-up the story for Reynold’s character and his family later in the film. A man inexplicably slaughters his entire family one random night, and is later described by police as having severely disturbed psychological behavior, the source of his behavior being generally understood to be related to demonic possession. It’s not exactly subtle exposition and foreshadowing, but compared to the terrible way in which it ends, this part of the film should be allowed to slide by.

George and Kathy (Melissa George) are a young married couple facing the typical financial stresses. However, they become infatuated with an old, rustic estate on the water’s edge and, spurred on by a desire to move onward in the “next step in our life’s plan,” they buy the house impulsively and cannot wait to settle in, to start making improvements on the grounds. Soon, though, the house causes disturbances in this family — most notably in George and their youngest child, Chelsea (Chloe Grace Moretz), and soon they’ll be left with only one option: abandon their dream house. Hopefully everyone will still be alive by then.

Given the curious against-type casting of Mr. Van Wilder here, I was nearly convinced this film could offer up something refreshing, performance-wise at least. (I hold out very little hope for experiencing stylistic revelations in horror film remakes). His typical pretty-boy appearance now disguised in the requisite grayscales and dim lighting of horror film sets, Reynolds’ George Lutz actually seemed capable of being a serious character, one that loves, hurts and is able to handle the responsibilities of his life — in essence, virtually the opposite of every character we’ve been accustomed to seeing Reynolds portray. As shocking as it might sound now, back then I thought this would work out.

I should probably back up just a bit though, before I tear Reynolds apart from my frustration of having sat through another plodding, quote-unquote scary film.

The ultimate failure with most films of this genre boils down to either a lack of acting ability (which on the odd occasion can make a film inadvertently more entertaining) or a lack of good writing. It’s those two factors more than anything else that throw off any given horror film’s desired effect; we can all look away from bloodshed if we so choose to. The remake of The Amityville Horror contains a mix of both, but its nearly impossible to argue that the writing is the most uninspired element. Reynolds is saddled with dialogue that is both unconvincing and at times plain stupid.

Of course, his character is taken on a journey that will leave you both confused and moreover, bored. The first complaint previously stated is owed more to the poor writing; his execution of a rather mundane story, though. . .well that’s more on Reynolds. As he slowly becomes more and more affected by the demonic forces within his house, he slowly starts to reveal the cracks in his dramatic repertoire. Aside from looking far too stoned for the duration of the flick, he can’t convey much in his eyes. Reactions and facial expressions are critical to selling the experiences of the victims on screen. All Reynolds can do is simply alter the volume of his voice.

Ultimately, my experience years back with this film is made all the more dim by the passing of time. The fog that has gotten in the way between today and whenever the heck it was when I last sat through The Amityville Borer has grown thick enough to make me think this movie could have survived on Reynold’s presence alone. Fortunately, though, the movie does get some brownie points for the young introduction of Chloe Grace Moretz, who gets more than her fair share of screen time here as the ever-so impressionable Chelsea. Everyone else involved is dreadfully forgettable, however.

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2-5Recommendation: Unlikely to be on anyone’s list of favorite remakes, this edition from 2005 is frustratingly mediocre. The acting is predictably crummy and the scares are sparse. This all said, there’s a decent bit of tension here and there that might make for a decent horror film night on the run-up to Halloween itself, but there’s really not much more value here than that. You might be better off renting the original.

Rated: R

Running Time: 89 mins.

Quoted: “Catch ’em and kill ’em. . .”

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17 thoughts on “TBT: The Amityville Horror (2005)

  1. Pingback: TBT: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) | digitalshortbread

  2. Great review Tom! I thought the movie would be around 5-6/10 but the Original classic definitely gets at least an 8/10. I appreciate you commenting on my reviews on SundayDumbDay.com and I am currently running my 31 Days of Scary so I will be putting up the Original classic. Tell me what you think of it and be sure to keep up the Great Reviews!

    • Hey Dustin no problem at all, thanks for coming by to give me a look as well. I’ll be sure to try and keep up with your 31 Days, but at the very least I will make a vow to check out your review of the original version of this one, since the ’05 version didnt really do much for me. I probably should have chosen the original classic version as well. Hindsight is always 20-20 lol

    • hahah i guess what I’m getting at with this whole thread is that they are throwbacks relative to my moviegoing experiences hahaha. I so totally could have gone with the original (and even possibly should have). It had been awhile since I had seen this thing so I figured why not include the ’05 version? Thanks for commenting!!!

    • Yeah Brian I’m with you. Not too memorable but I’ve seen far worse for sure. A frustrating middle ground, if anything.

    • hahaha agreed Chris. I got pretty bored with this, but it was a good call to go back and check this out. who knows how skewed my review would be if i just went with my first impressions! hah!

  3. Awww haha, I seem to be one of the few that don’t find this absolutely dreadful. Make no mistake, I don’t find it phenomenal, either. I just thought it was one of those movies that was fine to pass the time with. It did not hanker to be too scary or anything, it was just the average horror. It didn’t phase me too much. Ryan Reynolds is not necessarily the best choice for dramatic, but this shows something other than the ever-cocky characters he usually plays (though that is definitely the better suited role for him). This was certainly not a scary film, and relied heavily on jump scares. Your rating is pretty fair, it is one of those fifty/fifty hit or miss things.

    • yeah it honestly isn’t a terrible film by any means. I guess I just rediscovered why I had forgotten I had seen what I had seen here lol. Reynolds actually surprised me a little here and there, and yes he’s certainly not the first name I would have selected for a jump-scare-heavy movie either. . . I think I might have been a bit harsh here bc i can totally empathize with this movie’s status being a rainy-day Sunday kind of offerings. I suppose if it were anything more big-budget or had any higher aspirations than this, we wouldn’t probably have had Reynolds cast in this hah! Thanks for reading Zoe, as always

      • 🙂 I see we are mostly in the same boat hahaha. While you were harsh in places, I can also understand why. I have seen this film a few times and it is rather… forgettable, which is disappointing. Oh well. He had his shining moments eh 🙂 It is always a pleasure, I must thank you for writing so well, it is always nice to read that way! 😀

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