The Amityville Horror (Or, The Amityville Mildly Creepy Film About A House)

Monday 30 January 2017

4 stars
Nothing that begins with copious use of strobe lighting can be good. If you're starting by blinding the audience and inducing a headache they can't shake for the rest of the film, you're off to a bad start, right?

Wrong. The Amityville Horror is surprisingly good, even if it does get off on the wrong foot.

The flashbacks are clear: The house is haunted. People get possessed. They murder. The film is based on the horror cliche of moving into a cheap house that no one else wants due to the fact people have been killed in it. But I think everyone already knows that's the basic plot line for The Amityville Horror.

What they might not know about this remake is that it has a strong leading cast who know how to act and have decent chemistry with each other. Ryan Reynolds also takes on a more serious role than some of his other films, which was a nice change. That being said, I still couldn't take this film too seriously as it is still a haunted house film (but it's not as cheesy as I expected it to be, so there's that.

The pacing was great - weird things started happening very quickly and you're not left waiting for things to actually kick off. And when they do kick off, they're just the right amount of creep to make your heart race a little but not enough to give you horrible nightmares for week's to come. The jump scares, however, are a different story. Thankfully there aren't too many, but if that's what scares you in a horror film then they'll probably get you. They got me that's for sure (but jump scares always do, so maybe don't listen to me).

I really liked how the characters progressed along with the story - George in particular. They weren't cast aside to focus on scaring the audience, but they also didn't become the main focus, turning the film into a family drama. They all had very natural dialogue too, which can be rare within the horror genre. Sometimes the crew become so focused on giving a good scare that they forget about making sure the film is actually good. This wasn't the case here.

The cinematography and overall aesthetic of the film was really nice as well. The sets and surrounding areas were beautiful and nicely set up, and some really nice shots were captured. You really get the feel that it's the 70s again - or at least I did, but I have no idea what the 70s were actually like so I could be totally wrong.

Overall, The Amityville Horror isn't as bad as the beginning makes it seem. Over the duration of the film things do a complete one-eighty and it ends up a very enjoyable experience. The explanation at the end fit nicely within the rest of the story, but I wish it didn't end up as another horror based on an Indian burial ground.

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