Another horror remake (after "Texas Chainsaw Massacre") from producer Michael Bay (director of "Armageddon" and "The Rock"), "Amityville Horror" also manages to work on a fairly low budget ("Texas" was $12m, "Amityville" $18m) in order to turn fairly easy profits (although this film's April theatrical release seemed odd, the reasoning becomes pretty clear when you realize the DVD will arrive right on time for Halloween.)
The film stars Ryan Reynolds (about as unlikely a horror actor as I can imagine) and Melissa George ("Alias") as the Lutzes, a young couple looking forward to moving into their first house together. They somehow manage to stumble upon a beautiful old home while on a house hunting drive. The place is cheap - surprisingly cheap for the area and for the size of the place. The agent reveals that a tragedy happened not long ago, and murders took place in the house.
The two move in with their three kids, and it's not long before the movie gets to the point (well, with a running time less than 90 minutes, it has to) pretty quickly. George quickly starts to change from nice and friendly to downright...eeeeevil? Strange things start appearing, and it's not long before George is hearing voices.
"Amityville" is directed with a similarly harsh, saturated style as "Texas" was, yet the two films are completely different. Flaws aside, the "Texas" remake managed both incredibly strong atmosphere and tension. "Amityville" director Andrew Douglas doesn't really boil up much foreboding or mood here, and as a result, the film lacks suspense and feels somewhat like a checklist of familiar horror movie moments. With all that happens, one begins to realize that they should have moved out of the house on Day 1 (or at least she should leave with the kids when he goes nuts, but she is totally oblivious to his changes), but if they did, the filmmakers would have a short film on their hands instead of a feature. Still, some may be a bit taken out of the movie by having this obvious question on their minds. There's not a whole lot of logic on display, as the filmmakers are only focused on trying to mine some frights out of the material.
To its credit, the movie does get a scare or two out of some old fashion jolts, and Ryan Reynolds (best known for comedies like "Van Wilder") does considerably better in the role (I think he's very funny at times, but he didn't seem right for this) than I'd have expected.
Overall, "Amityville" presents a few decent moments here-and-there, and the performances aren't bad, but this definitely doesn't add up to enough to consider it a good genre picture.
VIDEO: "The Amityville Horror" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Video in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality isn't without some issues, but it's pretty fine overall. Sharpness and detail are perfectly fine, if not exceptional. Some minor pixelation and edge enhancement is visible at times, and doesn't cause much distraction, but is noticable. Colors remained deep and vivid, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Amityville" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Although the movie's scares don't always work, the sound design does try to make it up for it, with plenty of surround use for sound effects and ambience. Dialogue, score and sound effects remained crisp and sounded well-recorded throughout. There's also some pretty intense low bass at times.
EXTRAS: Extras include a commentary from Reynolds and two producers, 8 deleted scenes with optional commentary, previews for other titles from the studio, the "Supernatural Homicide" featurette (a look at what really happened in the house), multi-angle on-set peeks, a photo gallery and the "The Source of Evil-Making-Of" featurette.
Final Thoughts: Somewhat disappointing, "Amityville" gets a few jolts, but otherwise remains a basic, pretty stereotypical horror film that gets some support from the performances. Sony offers a solid DVD effort, with fine image quality, excellent audio and a nice helping of supplemental features. Those interested who haven't seen the movie may want to try a rental first.