Before I begin, I’ll have to confess, I can’t say I’ve ever actually seen the original film, but if this remake is anything to go by, I can’t say that I really want to either. That’s not to say that this is a terrible film, there’s some cheap scares here that actually made me jump in my seat but the problem is, nothing seems to happen throughout a large portion of the film.
First of all, we’re introduced to the Lutz family, George Lutz and Cathy Lutz; a relatively normal couple with three children, the children, as you will often be reminded through-out the movie, are from another father. The story begins with the couples desperation for a nice big house in a nice side of town which forces their hand to buy a new home. The new home in question just years before, had been the scene of a mass murder, killing all of the previous family but the son.
Amityville Horror’s main issue is its characters but even more so on the casting decisions, Ryan Reynolds in particular isn’t exactly a perfect choice to play George, it’s hard to take him seriously for most of the film. And for this story to work, taking his character seriously is a necessity. On top of this, horror films generally require an audience to somewhat care about the people that we’re watching on screen, the sad fact is that I didn’t and when the best acting of the film comes from the dog that’s telling you something. Couple this with the fact that there are some questionable decisions made – for example, put yourselves in the Kathy’s shoes, you’re worried about your families safety in your new house and the effect it is having on your husband and your decision is to leave your children at home with him. Really?
The film also relies heavily on quick jump scares more often than not, after one or two you generally become immune to these ticks, to the point where they have zero effect. The build-up to them is wrong and creates very little suspense as you generally know what’s coming. Unlike the story, which takes an odd turn for the worst going far too over the top in its closing scenes.
Taking all of this into account, I’d say this horror flick leaves a lot to be desired, sure, it might do to fill a gap between genuinely good films in this genre this Halloween season but when there are so many better ones out there – it seems unlikely that you would pick this for your screamfest on Halloween night.