Ryan Reynolds as George Lutz
Melissa George as Kathy Lutz
Jesse James as Billy Lutz
Jimmy Bennett as Michael Lutz
Chloe Moretz as Chelsea Lutz
Rachel Nichols as Lisa
Philip Baker Hall as Father Callaway
A remake of the 1979 film, based on the book of the same name about the Lutz family’s real life experience at the strange house in Amityville, New York, The Amityville Horror tries for a classic sense of creeping suspense and horror, but is sadly inept.
The film is heavy handed and obvious from the beginning. The first moment George (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy (Melissa George) Lutz walk into the house, director Andrew Douglas assaults the audience with sound effects, typical suspense music, and jump scares. There is no slow build of tension and suspense – it’s just evil, evil, evil from the first scene. The film relies mostly on cheap startle tactics – things continually pop in from the edges from the frame – to move the audience, because that’s all it has. It’s never, ever scary.
The filmmakers have come at the story with a More is More strategy. There are a great deal of well done ghost and gore effects in the film. Unfortunately, the result is that it makes the film less frightening instead of more frightening. And a scary movie without any scares is just dull.
Ryan Reynolds once again gets the best role in a boring movie and makes the most of it. He’s witty and charming even as he is driven insane by the house. But he also makes the turn to crazed murderer easily and believably. He has a great deal of screen presence, and hopefully one day he’ll actually be able to use them in a good movie.
The rest of the cast does their best, but don’t have much to do. Melissa George is mostly scared or bewildered until the last act when she finally cops to the fact that there’s something wrong with the house and tries to find out what.
The Amityville Horror is a well put together film, but it’s ultimately a waste because it’s just not scary.
The Amityville Horror is rated R for violence, disturbing images, language, brief sexuality and drug use.