The Amityville Horror (2005)

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*. Once more into the past, dear horror buffs. Led again by Michael Bay, who also re-set Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Doesn’t he have anything better to do?
*. This is a profoundly unoriginal movie. I’m not saying that because it’s just another franchise re-set looking to cash in on a brand name. I mean that it looks just like all the other horror re-sets from the same period: slick, dark, and depressing.
*. Perhaps most noticeable is the fact that despite being set in 1975 (they were making a cursory nod at being based on a “true story”) it looks nothing at all like the period. Most obviously, James Brolin was pretty much the definition of what a shaggy hunk of ’70s beefcake was supposed to look like. Ryan Reynolds is a buff, body-sculpted, twenty-first century dude, complete with a well-defined inguinal ligament crease.
*. Is Reynolds miscast? Muscular goofiness worked in Deadpool, but here I don’t think the part called for a comic actor. I say this despite not liking the general humourlessness of these re-sets. But I just can’t take Reynolds seriously enough for his George Lutz to be as threatening as he needs to be.
*. I was surprised how close the script stuck to the original. Yes, they downplay the priest (who is really no help at all), but it’s still the same story, with most of the same basic elements. I thought it odd that the fly attack didn’t look any better than it did thirty years earlier. Perhaps being attacked by a swarm of flies is just a hard sell, even with CGI.
*. More is made out of the difficulties of setting up a second-try family, which was really soft-pedaled in the original. Though in the end nothing much is done with it. Actually, the end of this movie feels really rushed. And despite presenting more of a back story, I was still confused as to what the whole point of it was.
*. For example, why does the resident devil, who clearly has something against Christianity, make George put crosses on all the coffins he makes? What’s his game?
*. The first movie was a mess. The franchise was a mess. The re-set took all of this and turned it into a bright and shiny new mess. I don’t think it’s worth bothering with unless you’re too young to have any memory of how it all got started. Since Michael Bay is proud of making entertainments for teenage boys, that might be taken as an endorsement.

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