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The Amityville Horror

Katch 'em and Kill 'em. 

Year: 2005 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Amityville Horror

Well this was a bit of a shocker. While trawling the recycle bin for films to remake, Columbia decided that, instead of remaking a genre masterpiece that would have film fans across the world up in arms, they'd rehash a film that was actually rather lousy in the first place, despite clearly having enormous potential. So they picked on The Amityville Horror, a deeply average haunted house movie made in 1979 with precious few scares and some really funky 70's hairstyles.

Based on a tenuous and controversial "true story", the movie details the experiences of the Lutz family as they move into their new house on Long Island, a blissfully serene family home where a year previously some nutcase shot his family then blew his brains out. Of course, it was all down to evil spirits, and before long they reappear and start visibly manifesting themselves, making all kinds of noise and instigating some very nasty infestations.

Amityville is very much a film of its genre – it does precious little new, but it uses the standard bag of tricks very well, and is certainly a notch or two nastier than the inoffensive PG13 chillers that are currently being churned out of the Hollywood machine. To its credit, Douglas takes the horror angle at face value and keeps the pacing breathless and unapologetically supernatural, refusing to take on board for a second that the whole thing might have been an elaborate and shameless piece of profiteering.

This version of the story is far superior to the original version, which is entirely due to the fact that it doesn't hold back on the horror, the gore or the atmosphere of pervading dread that so many similarly-themed modern films are sorely lacking. The Amityville Horror is one of the few justifiable remakes of recent times, and it's also a jolly entertaining movie in its own right – all the correct buttons will be pushed and a good time will be had by anyone who agrees with Willis Goldbeck's maxim that "When the truth becomes legend, print the legend".

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)