review for The Amityville Horror on AllMovie

The Amityville Horror (2005)
by Jeremy Wheeler review

No one was too surprised when it was announced that Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes was remaking The Amityville Horror, given that the original wasn't too good to begin with, but what many didn't expect was for Hollywood to barf out an even more forgettable horror excursion than the 1979 original. Director Andrew Douglas (Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus documentary) makes his feature debut here and, considering his general malaise toward the horror genre in press junket interviews, shows exactly what a hired hand will do when his heart isn't in the material. The film is littered with jump scares, but is never once scary. There are plenty of gross-out sequences as well, but rarely do they translate into real fright. With no real work put into racking up the tension (save for the rooftop sequence), the movie becomes a gag-fest where every mirror contains random zombie faces followed by a musical zinger that would make even the most hardened audience member jump, if simply because of its sudden shrill volume level. Hot young horror screenwriter Scott Kosar (from the Texas Chainsaw remake fame) decidedly turns the focus more on George Lutz's psychological transformation, but thanks to Ryan Reynolds' uneven portrayal, the character almost immediately loses it as soon as he spends the first night there. There's also the problem with severely dated material in the form of yet another spooky, malevolent ghost girl that shows up in every other scene to yawning results. By the time the end rolls around, the horror of the house is virtually tossed aside, no doubt because most of the gags were already used within the first 20 minutes of the film. Released to fairly dreadful reviews across the board, the film still got the seal of approval from MGM simply because its young demographic showed up to make it number one at the box office, proving once again that MTV-style hack filmmaking will always have its place in the annals of the Hollywood money-making machine.