The Amityville Horror (2005)

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Released 10-Oct-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Ryan Reynolds (Actor) And Andrew Form & Brad Fuller (Prods)
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Commentary
Featurette-Supernatural Homicide
Featurette-The Source Of Evil
Seamless Branching-On Set Peeks
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 85:40
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Andrew Douglas
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Ryan Reynolds
Melissa George
Jesse James
Jimmy Bennett
Chloe Moretz
Rachel Nichols
Philip Baker Hall
Isabel Conner
Brendan Donaldson
Annabel Armour
Rich Komenich
David Gee
Danny McCarthy
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music James Michael Dooley
Clay Duncan
Jonathan Flood


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
French
French Audio Commentary
Arabic
Hindi
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    With the story behind this film more fascinating and controversial than the film itself, the drama surrounding the DeFeo and Lutz families and the house at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York, continues to hook audiences. Fortunately, this recent remake of a 1970s horror classic has much more to offer than just updated special effects.

   On the evening of November 13, 1974, Henry’s Bar in Amityville, New York was remembered to be pretty quiet. A few locals were chatting over their beers, while the jukebox quietly churned out a few favourites. The gentle hum of friendly banter was shattered at about 6:30 p.m. when Ronald DeFeo Jr., known locally as “Butch”, burst into the bar screaming: “You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot.”

    Five men from the bar followed Butch outside into the car park. They all climbed into his car in a stunned silence. The men drove quickly to Butch's nearby home at 112 Ocean Avenue.

    The house was dark and completely silent when they got there, except for the barking of Shaggy, the DeFeo's dog. A sign that read "High Hopes" hung on the front lawn, and creaked gently in the wind.

    Carefully entering the house, the men climbed the stairs and switched on the upstairs bedroom lights. There they were greeted with a sickening sight: Before them, sprawled out face down on their bed, were the bodies of Butch's parents, Ronald Joseph DeFeo Sr., and Louise DeFeo. Their blood was splattered on the walls.

    Crossing the corridor, and stepping over the toys that one would expect to find in a boy's bedroom, the men then found the bodies of Butch's two little brothers. They too were in bed - face down like their parents, their bodies sprayed with their own blood. The sight of the two little boys' bodies made one of the men collapse to his knees.

    The men then looked in the other bedrooms and found Butch's sisters, Dawn and Allison, also slaughtered. Their bodies too were lifeless, also left face down in their beds.

    (Details taken from court transcripts of Ronald DeFeo Jr.'s 1975 trial.)

    In the lengthy trial that followed, Butch at first claimed the Mafia killed his family, but then later pleaded insanity claiming that, among other things, he heard voices in the Amityville house which told him to kill his family.

    This defence appeared relatively late during the trial, and neither the Jury nor the Judge were convinced. Ronald "Butch" DeFeo Jr. was found guilty of killing his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters. Butch was sentenced to 25 years to life.

    Butch remains in prison today. He was denied parole at his last parole hearing in September 2005, and it appears unlikely that he will be released any time soon.

    However, Butch is finally accepting some responsibility for the murders. In an interview in 2000, for Ric Osuna's The Night the DeFeos Died, Butch admitted that he, along with his 18-year-old sister Dawn DeFeo and one of his (unnamed) friends killed his family. In a written confession Butch stated: "It was cold-blooded murder. Period. No ghosts. No demons. Just three people in which I was one."

    Apparently, Butch and his siblings had suffered years of physical abuse at the hands of their authoritarian father. One drug and alcohol fuelled night, Butch and Dawn decided to end it. They were getting high in their basement when they agreed to kill their parents, and then take their siblings to live with their grandparents.

    However, according to Butch, after the murders began his drunk friend fled the scene. Butch gave chase, and when he returned, Butch found that Dawn had also killed their younger brothers and sisters. In a drunken rage, Butch then killed Dawn.

   Of note, a post mortem examination revealed that Dawn did have "unburned powder burns on her nightgown" which, along with other circumstantial evidence, does point to her involvement.

    The grisly DeFeo murders might have been forgotten by all, except for those living in Amityville, but for Jay Anson's monster 1977 bestseller, The Amityville Horror.

    As with the earlier hit book and film, The Exorcist (1973), Anson's gripping tale of supernatural horror was presented as a "true story" both as best-selling book and as a very successful film.

    Anson's book was written with the co-operation of the Lutz family, and tells their story of what happened on December 18, 1975, when they moved into the DeFeo house.

    According to Anson's book, a local Catholic priest, Father Mancusco, arrived to bless the family's new home that afternoon. As the priest sprinkled holy water around the bedrooms and prayed, he heard a loud demonic voice shout “Get out!”

    According to the book, this was but the first of a series of increasingly bizarre and terrifying occurrences. Anson claimed that from the moment that George and Kathleen Lutz and their three children moved in, they felt uncomfortable and even sick. The previously doting parents began to physically abuse their children, beating them with straps in the same manner that Butch claimed his father had beaten him.

    Over the following weeks the family was allegedly terrorised with foul stenches, green or black slime appearing on walls, and even phantom molestations.

   However, perhaps the most far-fetched element of the story was the claim that the Lutz's youngest daughter befriended an invisible, red-eyed pig named Jodie. Apparently, both parents would also occasionally see this pig, or its two red eyes peering at them through the darkness. (The 'Jodie' character is portrayed as a little girl in the 2005 film remake).

    Apparently, after 28 days of terror, the family fled the Defeo house, never to return.

    However, the family must have found some comfort in Anson's multi-million copy best seller, which made them very wealthy. They even participated in a promotional tour of the book, and of course welcomed Stuart Rosenberg's 1979 film starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, which grossed over $US80m, and spawned at least two sequels.

    Interestingly, a number of families have lived in the house since, and none of them have ever reported any paranormal activity.

   Fans of the original 1979 film, producers Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller had enjoyed some success with their 2003 remake of another 1970s horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bay, Form and Fuller saw the box office potential of an updated version of Amityville Horror, and dived into production. Surprisingly, they hired an unknown British music video and television commercial director, Andrew Douglas, to helm his first feature film.

    The story for the new version seems to be based more on the original film than the original book. That said, the basic elements of the story remain consistent: George and Kathy Lutz (a buffed Ryan Reynolds and gorgeous Melissa George) have bought a real bargain home, and move in with their kids. Of course, being a horror film, the dream soon turns to being a nightmare and a series of unnerving events unfold.

    This film version, however, not only looks to the original film for its inspiration. The little girl's relationship with the imaginary friend is very derivative of Poltergeist, while George's journey into evil paranoia seems lifted directly from The Shining - he even gets to stalk the family around the house with an axe. Even much of the film's production design and visual style, and Kathy's investigations into the cause of the haunted house, are borrowed from The Ring.

    Furthermore, this version not only seems to depart from the original story, but it even departs from the traditional haunted house genre as it comes to rely on a series of loud noises and unexpected 'boo' scares.

    That said however, all the frights seem to work, and there are plenty of them. With its fast-paced, rollercoaster ride of scares, even the clichéd slasher horror film climax during an electrical storm is perfectly acceptable.

    Another nice touch is the greater focus on the main characters' relationship, and Reynolds and George both deliver great performances.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film has an intentional, grainy, heavily-textured 1970s look which suits the story well, and the transfer captures it beautifully on this well-authored disc.

    The widescreen transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is excellent, as can be seen with the detailed grille on the wall at 14:43, or the close-up of the eye at 43:01. The black level is excellent throughout with true, deep blacks. With many dark and shadowy scenes, fortunately the shadow detail is also excellent, as can be seen with the stairs leading to the dark basement at 9:22, and the interior of the bedroom at night at 38:23.

    The film's set, costume, and overall production design are fantastic. Colour is used strongly throughout, and the DVD boasts a rich, well-saturated palette. Skin tones are accurate.

    While the image is often intentionally grainy, there are no problems with MPEG artefacts, such as pixelization.

    There are also no problems with film-to-video artefacts such as aliasing or telecine wobble.

    A few small film artefacts, for example tiny black or white flecks, appear infrequently throughout, but these were never distracting, and indeed, they were hard to spot.

    English, English for the Hearing Impaired, English Audio Commentary, French, French Audio Commentary, Arabic, and Hindi subtitles are provided. The English subtitles are accurate.

    This is a Dual Layer disc, with the layer change placed at 78:33, right at the start of the film's end credits. The feature is divided into 28 chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As one would expect from a recent, big-budget horror film, the movie has a brilliant sound design which in turn translates into a great home theatre experience.

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD: The feature is presented with the option of either an English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) audio track or a French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) audio track. There is also an English Audio Commentary, encoded as Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    The musical score is credited to James Michael Dooley, Clay Duncan, and Jonathan Flood, and it is effective as it helps set the uneasy and eerie mood for the many, many scares and tense moments throughout.

    The surround presence and activity is great and adds a lot to the film in terms of giving viewers a more atmospheric experience. Apart from supporting many of the surround effects and 'boo' scares, the rear speakers are often used to provide ambience, such as during the rain storms at 1:40 and 68:14, or the wind at 19:06.

    The film boasts a wonderful LFE track, and the subwoofer is utilised very effectively throughout, for example the house groaning at 2:50, the thunder at 3:04, or the ominous rumbling at 28:47.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a few genuine and interesting extras.

Menu

    Animated with audio.

Audio Commentary

   Actor Ryan Reynolds and Producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller provide an informative, screen-specific commentary with plenty of anecdotes. Comedian Reynolds jokes throughout, and keeps it fairly lively and light. They also point out a few scenes and effects inserted during post-production, which I found interesting.

Deleted Scenes (7:47)

    Eight deleted scenes are provided, with an optional audio commentary. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, non 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Stereo audio.

Featurette-Supernatural Homicide (17:33)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Stereo audio, this Featurette includes first hand accounts from some of the people involved with the original case, including Amityville's former Chief of Police. While the content is fascinating, unfortunately shots and clips taken from the film are used and not the real photographic stills or archival news footage.

Featurette-The Source Of Evil (26:29)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Stereo audio, this extra features the film's producers, director, and writer along with other key cast and crew discussing their approach to making a horror film. The Featurette also includes a look at some of the make up, effects and stunts in the movie as well.

On Set Peeks

   This extra allows the viewer to see some behind-the-scenes footage relating to twelve scenes in the film via seamless branching during the movie. For example, we might branch out of the film to see the scene being filmed, and then branch back into the film to see the finished scene.

Photo Gallery

    A series of photographic stills from the film.

Trailer-Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo

   Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, with Dolby Stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 and R4 are basically the same, but there is also a two-disc R3 (Hong Kong) Deluxe Edition with dts ES audio, but that version misses out on an audio commentary.

Summary

    An enjoyable albeit rather shallow popcorn horror film well worth renting.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent, and very atmospheric.

    The extras are good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Great Review - Nick REPLY POSTED
Extremely fast paced -