THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Directed by Andrew Douglas
“THE AMITYVILLE HORROR might not go down in cinema history, but it’s an entertaining, solid horror movie.”
It turns out we have a new undisputed champion of horror in James Wan. The man has not only been making solid horror films since 2004’s SAW, but his movies make money…like lots of it. He should already be mentioned in the same breath with John Carpenter and Wes Craven, and honestly there is no one else right now who can dispute his reign. Anyway, in honor of no doubt his latest mega hit THE CONJURING 2, it seems like a dandy time to revisit another big ghost franchise with THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Oh, the one with Deadpool, not the one with badass Pee Wee James Brolin.
The original AMITYVILLE HORROR is a classic. That’s hard to deny. But like all things that have some mild name recognition, Hollywood felt the need to remake it. Now I have to admit I don’t recall the last time I watched the ’79 flick, so I can’t and won’t do a compare-contrast with the ‘05 edition. Directed by the unknown then (and unknown now) Andrew Douglas, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR doesn’t offer anything new for those who dig the original (if I do recall it correctly) or to the genre itself, but it’s a well-made, great looking flick that delivers plenty of the expected creepy shit.
Ryan Reynolds obviously is known for his comedic wit, so it is interesting seeing him in a darker role, especially when he was still pushing for his current superstar status. Like many other comedy-based actors, it takes a few moments to take him seriously as a madman with a fine looking beard. At times, I keep waiting for a snarky comment when he gives certain looks, which isn’t a good thing. And somehow, the many shots of a shirtless and very buff Reynolds seems a little forced, but then again, if I looked like that, well, I’d probably find a few excuses to ditch my shirt too. His descent into madness works, and I buy it even if it isn’t at the same level as Jack in THE SHINING. But few films can match that. However, I do dig the subtle choices such as Reynold’s eyes growing blacker the crazier he gets, especially during the scene where he makes his kid hold a log while he swings an axe. The blackness in his eyes really works.
A complaint that can’t be denied about THE AMITYVILLE HORROR comes with the Michael Bay factor. His productions always look obnoxiously shiny and glossy. It’s a weird bitch, but all the grit and grime that should be in a 70’s based film with an old haunted house is missing, which is a shame. Bay also reveals too damn much. Again, I don’t recall the original (and I purposely did not go back and research it) so maybe it always explained the background of the house and all the demons with in it, but I don’t think it’s needed. Just allow the freaky weird shit to happen.
But one thing that a Bay-produced horror production does do right is the scares. It's always creepy when kids see dead kids; for me, that’s the stuff nightmares are made from, and these particular kids seem a little…well, creepier than normal. Especially, Reynolds and movie wife Melissa George’s daughter Chelsea (who I did not recognize it was Chloë Grace Moretz until I looked up the character’s name just now! How about that, her first movie role). Her conversations with the dead girl in the house give me chills. I also really enjoy when Reynolds has some nutty visions of ripping his own chest open and letting the blood and guts flow. It’s painful to watch.
This edition of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR might not go down in cinema history, but it’s an entertaining, solid horror movie that gives you exactly what you expect from it. Plus, it has Ryan Reynolds! We need more of him in our lives.