Rachel Nichols in The Amityville Horror.
For a movie whose tagline is, "Nothing is more terrifying than the truth," and whose opening caption reads, "Based on a true story," The Amityville Horror seems to care little for truth or credibility. It seems to care even less in making a good movie or creating sympathetic characters, but at least the tagline doesn't say anything about that.
Perhaps teenagers or children are unfamiliar with the story, but certainly, everyone of my generation must know the tale of The Amityville Horror. A son goes on a murderous rampage one night at his home in Amityville, Long Island, killing his parents and siblings while they sleep, because (according to him) voices told him to do it. One year later, a new family moves in and they become terrorized by all manner of spookiness, which eventually forces them to flee after just 28 days.
What you chose to believe happened in that house is completely determined by your level of gullibility. If you look for evidence of spirits or demons, or your own particular flavor of supernatural happenings, you're likely to find them in the story. If, on the other hand, it all sounds like a load of bullshit created for the purpose of selling books and their rights into movies, then you'll definitely have no problem in seeing that in the story as well.
This latest cinematic retelling however, certainly doesn't want you to doubt for an instant that there are supernatural things afoot. It quite happily shows ghosts and demons and flashes of bloody murder, disallowing the viewer to interpret the events in any other way than the way they want you to see them. That's fine in a fictional horror story, but not in one that's based upon true events. Apparently the writers, director, and producer of this film want us all to believe that houses really are haunted and all we have to do is move into the wrong address for us to become beset by demons.
And if they were going to stretch the truth for this version of the movie, they ought to have really stretched it and made the events into an entertaining story filled with scares and horror. Instead, once you sift through all of the slieght of hand, all you really end up with is an hour and forty minutes of Ryan Reynolds becoming increasingly grumpy and an infestation of flies. All the family needed to solve their problems was a good dose of Prozac for the dad and some heavy-duty bug spray.
The Amityville Horror is in fact anything but a horror except in terms of good storytelling.
Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George in The Amityville Horror.
Actually the movie does live it up to interpretation. I definitely saw it as a load of bullshit. The movie is always showing ghosts around the house. Reynolds's looks up at his step daughter's window and sees her and a ghost is clearly standing next to her. Does he see it or is it just there for the audience? He never reacts to the sightings. The times something happens to an adult can easily be explained. Just before he feels he is attacked in the tub he pops a bunch of medication. The babysitter supposedly sees the dead daughter in the closet. But just before doing it she smokes a bong and tells ghost stories. The mind is very accepting to suggestion if you are open to it and on drugs.
Reynolds's, as the Dad, getting dark and grumpy is the easiest aspect of this movie to explain. He just married a woman with three kids. The oldest clearly does not like him. The youngest is so undisciplined that she climbs onto the roof. He now lives in and is paying a mortgage on a house that had multiple murders in it. The dog is always barking and he can't sleep. The guy is stressed but no more than any other father in a similar situation. The wife notes that he is calmer when they go to dinner. They think it is because they are away from the haunted house. Hello! He is calmer because he is away from her three kids, their barking dog and the big house that reminds him of just how indebt he is.
I really wonder if this couple is still together today. Either way, one thing is for sure. They laughed all the way to the bank with the proceeds from their book.
Photos © Copyright MGM (2005)