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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Andrew Douglas
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Moretz, Rachel Nichols
Writing Credits:
Scott Kosar, Jay Anson (novel), Sandor Stern (earlier screenplay), George Lutz (material), Kathy Lutz (material)

Tagline:
Based on the true story.

Synopsis:
From Michael Bay, the producer of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, comes the true story of Amityville ... In November 1974, a family of six was brutally murdered. Now, a year later, an unsuspecting young couple, George (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy Lutz (Melissa George), and their children move into the house that was the site of the horrific event and is now haunted by a murderous presence. What follows is 28 days of unimaginable terror. With demonic visions of the dead and relentless screams of terror, this is the haunted house story that isn't just a movie - it's real.

Box Office:
Budget
$19 million.
Opening Weekend
$23.507 million on 3323 screens.
Domestic Gross
$65.233 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 9/14/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller and Actor Ryan Reynolds
• “Supernatural Homicide” Featurette
• “The Source of Evil” Featurette
• “On-Set Peeks” Interactive Feature
• Deleted Scenes
• Photo Gallery
• Trailer
• Bonus DVD


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Amityville Horror [Blu-Ray] (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 20, 2010)

Why do studios churn out one horror remake after another? Because they come with a built-in potential audience and they’re cheap enough to make a profit with little effort.

Case in point: 2005’s The Amityville Horror. A reworking of the 1979 hit, it earned a mediocre $65 million – but with a budget of just $19 million, it turned a tidy profit for the studio. (Not as much as the original, though; that one raked in $86 million in 1979 money and had an even smaller budget.)

Though I liked it as a kid, I don’t think the 1979 version has aged well, so I was more than open for the remake to improve on its predecessor. Of course, both provide the same – allegedly true - story. George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) marries Kathy (Melissa George) and they move with her three kids Billy (Jesse James), Michael (Jimmy Bennett) and Chelsea (Chloë Grace Moretz) into a lovely house with a bad history. A year earlier, a teenager went bonkers and slaughtered his family in this place. Once the Lutzes enter, strange events start to occur, and much funky weirdness results.

As I mentioned, the 1979 Amityville hasn’t held up well. What scared the poop out of me as a 12-year-old looks goofy as an adult, so I was 100 percent open to the notion that the remake would improve on its predecessor.

It doesn’t, though my initial screening did prompt a reaction in me. I saw it at an aging multiplex and got attacked by fleas, bedbugs or some other biting irritant. (That was the last time I went to that location, obviously.)

The pests provided a much more immediate reaction from me than the desperate attempts at fear found in Amityville. Whether or not one believes the Lutz family’s story, it could be the basis for a good horror movie. The questionable nature of its factual side in no way means that it can’t work as a scarefest.

Unfortunately, the 1979 movie is a dud, and the 2005 interpretation fares no better. I suspect a tale like this would be most successful if done in a purely psychological way. A film that lets us wonder if supernatural forces occurred or it George was simply mentally unstable could create an intriguing experience. I wouldn’t mind if that flick tilted in one direction or another, but if it maintained reasonable balance, it could keep the audience off-guard and form a creepy little piece.

The 2005 Amityville wholeheartedly embraces the supernatural side and leaves no room for interpretation. It presents visions, ghosts and whatnot as absolute fact. We never question the sanity of George: as told here, the house possessed him and that was that.

Rather than shoot for a chilling psychological horror tale, Amityville prefers to inundate us with loud musical stings and the cinematic equivalent of a kid who jumps out of a closet and yells “boo!” This is far from a subtle film, as it beats us over the head with its pathetic attempts at scares, virtually none of which work.

Man, does this film assault the viewer! It can’t seem to go more than two or three minutes without a loud jolt. Those cheap tactics don’t frighten in their earliest incarnations, so by the time the 300th hits us 90 minutes later, any potential value has hit rock bottom. I don’t mind the occasional “boo” moment, but 90 minutes of them gets tedious.

Visually, Amityville opts for the same hyperkinetic look almost all modern horror movies receive. With its skewed camera shots, jerky editing and cheesy CG, it often resembles nothing more than a really long Marilyn Manson video.

On the positive side, Reynolds brings surprising heft to George. Reynolds usually plays smug, smirking characters, and some of that inevitably comes out in George. However, he turns the part into something borderline scary by the end of the movie, so he adds to the flick.

I just wish Reynolds had been given a chance to shine in something less crappy than the 2005 Amityville Horror. Take every cliché and criticism that gets attached to 21st century horror flicks and it’ll apply here. Tacky, loud and utterly devoid of terror, the remake bombs.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

The Amityville Horror appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The transfer consistently satisfied.

Sharpness looked terrific. At no time did I discern any instances of softness or ill-defined shots. Instead, the movie consistently came across as nicely accurate and concise. I saw no issues connected to jagged edges or shimmering, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. The movie lacked any examples of print flaws. I witnessed no specks, marks, or other defects during this clean and smooth presentation.

Like most modern flicks in its genre, Amityville gave us a pretty restricted palette. This usually alternated between a desaturated bleached look and chilly blues. Though not a vivid presentation, the disc seemed to replicate the movie’s intended palette; the colors were appropriately vivid when necessary and seemed accurately depicted.

Black levels also came across well. Dark shots demonstrated good depth and clarity. Low-light shots were nicely displayed and seemed clear and adequately visible. Shadow was clean and tight. Given the darkness seen in much of the film, those components became especially important, so their high quality was an important factor in the success of the transfer. Overall, the image of Amityville appeared very strong.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it went with a fairly active experience. Given the movie’s near-constant attempts to scare us, the mix featured a lot of elements that popped up all around the room. While the frights didn’t succeed, I couldn’t fault the sound designers, as they kicked the track into high gear and provided a smooth, blended sense of the various spooky/shocking elements.

They also created a mix with good audio quality. Speech was always concise and natural, and the score showed solid clarity and heft. Effects demonstrated strong power and accuracy as well, and the loud moments packed a nice low-end punch. This was good enough for a positive “B+”.

As an extra, the Blu-ray set includes the original 2005 DVD that was available commercially. That’s also the repository of almost all the supplements we’ll find, so don’t expect anything new. The Blu-ray includes the film’s trailer and that’s it.

Over on the DVD, we open with an audio commentary from producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller and actor Ryan Reynolds. All of them sit together for a running, screen-specific chat about sets, locations and production design, makeup and effects, stunts, cast and performances, period details, attempts at realism and themes, music, story and editing.

Even without the film’s director on hand, this becomes a pretty interesting piece. The three men interact well and throw out a nice mix of details. Reynolds contributes some humor as well, and we get a reasonably informative look at the film.

Two featurettes follow. Supernatural Homicide goes for 17 minutes, 33 seconds and provides notes from former Amityville chief of police Ken Greguski, Suffolk County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Howard Adelman, and “interpreter for the dead” Lorraine Warren. The show takes a lot at the DeFeo murders in a few ways: Adelman and Gregulski stick to the facts, while Warren discusses potential supernatural elements. When the piece follows the first path, it’s decent, but it goes off the rails when it indulges Warren’s particular brand of psychic kookery.

The Source of Evil lasts 26 minutes, 28 seconds and features Reynolds, Fuller, Form, producer Michael Bay, screenwriter Scott Kosar, director Andrew Douglas, action coordinator Kenny Bates, production designer Jennifer Williams, and actors Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Grace Moretz, Isabel Conner, and Rachel Nichols. The program discusses the re-adaptation of the story, cast, characters and performances, makeup, stunts and effects, Douglas’ work on the film, and production design.

“Source” delivers a fairly average “making of “ featurette. It covers a standard array of filmmaking topics and does so in a reasonably competent manner. Nothing special emerges, but it always remains watchable.

Next we get On Set Peeks . This offers a branching feature that takes you away from the movie nine times to show behind the scenes material. Unfortunately, there’s no apparent method to watch these without sitting through the whole flick, which makes the feature a drag, especially since it only accompanies the DVD version; at least if it also came with the Blu-ray presentation, it’d go along with the one purchasers would want to view.

Not that any sane person would actually want to watch the flick with nine interruptions. Even when they provide good content, I don’t care for features of this sort unless they include a separate viewing option. This one doesn’t, so it ends up as an awkward way to explore the film.

Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of seven minutes, 46 seconds. We find “Family Toast” (1:14), “Kathy Buys Groceries” (0:57), “Kathy Gives Chelsea a Bath” (0:24), “Charlie and Girlfriend Visit George” (1:12), “Chelsea and Michael Argue” (1:14), “Kathy and George Arrive to Lights Flashing” (1:14), “Kathy and George Argue” (1:25), and “Original Etch-a-Sketch from Dailies” (0:06). Most of these don’t give us more than a little extra creepy material. “Charlie” includes two unused characters, which makes it marginally more interesting, but don’t expect much from these pieces.

We can watch these with or without commentary from Reybolds, Form and Fuller. They give us some production notes and let us know why the sequences got cut. The commentary provides useful information.

Finally, we get a Photo Gallery that splits into three areas. We find “Crime Scene” (74 screens), “House Interior” (17) and “Ghosts and Torture” (24). “Crime” shows props and photos related to the film’s prologue, “Interior” offers pictures of the sets, and “Ghosts” displays sketches connected to the basement and the house’s evil past. All are interesting to see.

Maybe 20 years from now someone will make a good version of The Amityville Horror. I do believe the basic story could work, but the 2005 incarnation does nothing to appropriate develop the property. Instead, it goes for the cheapest of scare tactics and lacks any form of cleverness or honest terror. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, very good audio and a reasonably useful set of supplements. I like this release but don’t care for the movie itself.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5714 Stars Number of Votes: 7
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main