I have always been a huge fan of Platinum Dunes, who previous to this had produced what I consider to be a stellar remake in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003). I had very high expectations going into THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, and while it was better than the recent rash of remakes, it still fails to impress. The new film finds the Lutz family moving into a huge new house that slowly reveals its ghosts from the past as each of the family members experience terrifying haunts within its walls. Unlike the original, which used subtle scares and very few visuals, this new rendition shows the audience everything by materializing the entities in creepy make-up for cheap scares. This version also uses computerized FX to visualize George's growing madness as he pictures his family turning into demons, which is entirely unnecessary and is almost insulting to the audience, who the filmmakers are presuming can't understand abstract concepts unless they are present on screen. The choices in casting also dispel much of the mood, since it is difficult to take Ryan Reynolds seriously in a genre film after his career in Comedy, especially when he is written with several smarmy exchanges with his movie wife. There are a few moments of genuine terror where he sells the seriousness of the role, particularly in the wood-chopping sequences. The re-envisioned house does retain the same creepy atmosphere as the original, and is off-setting in its own right. What it comes down to in the end is this: Would this film have been a classic if the original had never been made? The simple answer is, no. It is a mild ghost tale that relies far too much on pre-designed Hollywood jump scares initiated by music cues and quick jumps to disturbing images, but it is not horrifying and will not leave a lasting impression on viewers. It will likely appeal to genre fans that felt the original was too slow and underwhelming, but there is no way to suspend disbelief and buy into the fact that this film was based on true events. Still, it is not bad enough to avoid, and is worth checking out.
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