Thursday, October 13, 2016

TSMR: The Amityville Horror Remake

So I finally sat down and watched the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror last night. Totally unbelievable. I mean, do you know any grown men who take baths?

Kidding. But honestly, I'm kind of glad I skipped this movie up to now. It was bad. So here's my Totally Superfluous Movie Review of an 11 year old film.

Kathy and George Lutz are house-hunting and find a beautiful home at bargain prices. They of course ask what's wrong with it, and are told by the realtor that a brutal murder happened in the home. The grown son, Ronald DeFeo Jr., kills his entire family, claiming they were demons and that the house told him to do it. So Kathy, George, and Kathy's 3 children (Billy, Michael, and Chelsea) move into the house posthaste. (After all, it was a steal!)

Almost immediately, George starts displaying uncharacteristic cruelty and irritability, which Kathy writes off as stress, even when George becomes abusive to the children and Kathy herself. The timeline of George's decline was really too short. You didn't have enough time to grow to like the character before he turned into a total asshole. So even though you knew the house was the cause of his dickish behavior, you didn't care.

Chelsea also starts acting different, after befriending Jodie, who Kathy believes is an imaginary friend, but is actually the name of one of the deceased DeFeo children. It's never completely clear why the only spirit of the DeFeo family to appear is little Jodie, or whether Jodie is a ghost, a demon, or something else. She sometimes appears in distress about the evil things happening in the house (getting pulled around by disembodied hands), and other times, seems to be pissed off and evil herself. Other creatures show up, but they look inhuman, so I would guess they aren't members of the DeFeo family. Who are they? No one knows, not even the writers it seems.

All the scares were mostly surprise or shock value. They tried throwing in some "creepy" symbolism, but it just came across as "We're trying to do the symbolism of The Ring because that movie was super successful, but we're failing, and, oh, did you see Ryan Reynolds shirtless? Here he is chopping wood. Some of this is working, right?"

After Chelsea tries to kill herself to be with Jodie, Kathy starts to realize there is something seriously wrong. She visits a priest, and asks him to come to the house to do a blessing. The house immediately starts to mess with the priest, causing him to flee in terror. In the meantime, George gets more unhinged, moves into the basement, and kills the family dog. Kathy suggests they pack up and leave, resulting in more abuse from George, who storms into the basement.

On the 28th day in the house, Kathy has finally had enough and goes to the library to do some research. She learns the house was a mission for Native Americans, started by Reverand Ketcham.

Poor Ash Ketchum's family had to change the spelling of their name to
sever any ties they had with the black sheep of their family tree.
This explains the chants George hears of "Catch 'em, kill 'em." Ketcham, get it? So clever. I bet he gave the best sermons.

The book on Reverand Ketcham, which shows a drawing of the house, provides dates in the 1600s. Does this house really look like it was built in the 1600s to you?

So yes, they basically used the Indian Burial Ground trope. Kathy also learns that Ronald DeFeo killed his entire family on their 28th day in the house. So what does she do?

Goes to the priest, of course, and tells him everything she's learned, asking "Could it be true?" ("And, oh, by the way, father, why did you run away like that?") The priest has to be the one to tell her to get the family out of the house. Despite the fact that not long before, she sat at the kitchen table and told George they needed to leave. Now she has some real evidence that the house is bad, and she has to be told. She also decides at this point that the best way to get through to her crazy husband is to call on the telephone and tell him to get the kids and leave. Needless to say, it doesn't work.

She finally does show up, only to fall into the lake because George shined a flashlight in her eyes. While she was standing still. She then finds the coffins George made for the family. It sure was thoughtful of him to label them. I'd hate for him to get confused during his murderous rage and put little Chelsea in the wrong one. The movie really just beats you over the head with obvious things, and then totally fails to address random things.

And then, finally, we have a chase scene, with characters running up the stairs and climbing across the roof, because the house locked all the doors and windows. Breaking the glass in the giant picture window apparently wasn't an option.

Overall, you should skip this one. Looking for a "house made me crazy" movie? Watch The Shining. Need some creepy symbolism with little girl ghosts? Watch The Ring. Want a movie that uses the burial ground trope but doesn't suck? Poltergeist. 

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