Set Visit: Amityville Horror
KATCH EM AND KILL EM
Part of the reason JoBlo sent me on this set visit was the fact that you can bounce quarters off the muscles on my arms. Okay, so maybe thats not true. Its actually my ass. But the real reason is that Ive never seen THE AMITYVILLE HORROR or read the novel it is based on (incidentally, I cant even read), so he saw the importance of remaining objective about the visit and not getting all fanboy about how dare they do a remake on this or that house looks nothing like the original house. Well, we were shown pictures of the new house (as youve probably seen already-- scroll down below) and I have to say that it looks pretty friggin spooky but hey, youll decide what you want.
But before I get any further into the Amityville set experience, heres a brief synopsis of whats going down with the story:
On November 14, 1974, police received a frantic phone call that led them to a nightmarish crime scene at the Defeo residence in Amityville, Long Island - an entire family had been slaughtered in their beds. In the days that followed, Ronald Defeo confessed to methodically shooting his parents and four siblings while they slept, claiming "voices" in the house drove him to commit the grisly murders. One year later, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into the house thinking it would be their dream home. But shortly after settling in, bizarre and unexplainable events began to occur to the family as George was plagued by nightmarish visions and haunting voices from the evil presence still lurking within the residence. 28 days after moving in, the Lutzes abandoned the home - lucky to escape with their lives.
Ryan Reynolds (VAN WILDER, BLADE III) plays George Lutz, husband to Kathy Lutz and step-father to her three children. George with every passing day, becomes increasingly transfixed on the basement of the house, and possessed with demonic forces that plague the familys new home.
Melissa George (ALIAS, MULHOLLAND DRIVE) plays Georges wife, Kathy Lutz, and discovers their dream houses terrifying history is responsible for the unexplainable phenomenon the family is experiencing.
Good ol Philip Baker Hall (MAGNOLIA, MIDNIGHT RUN) plays Father Callaway, a priest at the local church who Kathy has out to the house to cleanse its demonic energy.
This is director Andrew Douglas first feature film, having directed tons of high profile commercials for Nike, Microsoft, Verizon and Volvo.
With two-thirds of filming done in Wisconsin (principle photography should wrap this week), interiors were shot in a warehouse in a suburb of Chicago (tentative release date: April 15, 2005). Aside from warehouses generally being dark and creepy, especially when theyre full of men, the actual set of what was being filmed was the basement of the Lutzs house. Stone walls with cobwebs dressing every corner, wooden stairs that occasionally creak when being stepped on and boxes and newspaper littered the stone floor if this dark and dingy basement.
Think the basement in STIR OF ECHOES.
Think Russells old room in the basement of PULP FICTION.
KATCH EM AND KILL EM
Before filming took place, the unit publicist John Pisani (who looks remarkably like Mark Ruffalo in ETERNAL SUNSHINE) showed a select group of miscreants (read: us web-heads) a boat house constructed for a big scene in the third act of the movie. Just down the road, a crew of ten or so was building the top half of the Amityville house (the one most of you hate) for a scene in which one of the children is being chased on the roof. Apparently you cant chase a kid on an actual roof of an actual house. Insurance, man.
Back in the warehouse, the first scene being shot was the Lutzs first tour of the home, of the basement. After some small talk between George and Kathy Lutz, Kathy heads upstairs to the real estate agent, while George becomes momentarily curious about an old radio he knocked over in the process of following his wife.
Nothing too exciting, but the three scenes filmed that day all had to do with George Lutzs growing fixation on the house. After a couple of takes on the first scene, it became clear that director Andrew Douglas wasnt completely satisfied with the blocking of the shot. Its got to have a personality, he told his director of photography, which later in an interview he would elaborate on, that the personality of the house was in fact a presence, that the house was discreetly watching these new occupants of the house. I have that same feeling when Im home but I suspect it has to do with my creepy uncle.
The second basement scene involved George filling the basement fireplace with wood, becoming distracted by something he hears, (or thinks he hears) while the third scene shows a more dejected and visually disturbed George sitting alone in the basement and snapping at his wife about her son not chaining the dog up like hes suppose to.
Watching the first two scenes, its somewhat difficult to gauge the actors performances, as the mood and temperament of the scenes was somewhat low key and introductory, but if Ryan Reynolds delivery when he snaps at his wife in the third scene is any kind of precursor to his later scenes when his mind goes completely ape shit, then plenty of people are going to be surprised at his performance.
At the far corner of the warehouse, separate from the basement set, our man John Pisani took us to what looked like a mini house and what was actually Chelsea Lutzs bedroom. The interior of it was decorated with seventies style colors and relics, dolls and toys, your typical seven to ten year old little girl bedroom, and as we made our way outside, someone says Look at that, and right there on the white wall of the stairs, written in red (presumably blood) and chicken scratch handwriting, it says in big, bold letters:
KATCH EM AND KILL EM
And thus, the conclusion of my visit to the set of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Thanks to the fine folks at MGM for the opportunity and unit publicist Mr. Cool, John Pisani, for the tour of the set and all the informative production notes and so on. Bummer that we didnt get to take any photos, but on the non-bummer side, the catering was tops. Stay tuned for interviews with Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George and Director Andrew Douglas on JoBlo.com...
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