2005-04-29 / Columnists

MovieScope

By Robert Snyder


You have to feel sorry for whomever is living in the former DeFeo house of Amityville, Long Island.

Not because of the 1974 murder spree or the alleged subsequent hauntings. No, because Hollywood won’t stop making schlocky fright films about it. Certainly, a lot of people are cashing in on the family tragedy-turned-franchise…everyone, but the current homeowner of the infamous Dutch Colonial, who watches his property value decrease as new movies appear along with weirdoes and the curious on his lawn. With the recent release of “The Amityville Horror,” the series has come full circle, as once again the original title of the Jay Anson bestseller is being used as it was for the 1979 feature. After that hit, there followed “Amityville II: The Possession,” “Amityville III: The Demon,” “Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes,” “The Amityville Curse,” “Amityville 1992: It’s About Time,” “Amityville: A New Generation,” and “Amityville Dollhouse.”

And, once again, the film opens with a montage of the fatal Ronald DeFeo shooting of his parents and his four siblings in 1974, spurredĀ  on, said the killer, by mysterious voices. The unwitting Lutz couple with their three children buy the house a year later at a ridiculously low price. The broker reveals the murderous reason for the discount resale, but George (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy (Melissa George) Lutz shrug it off with the rationale, “There are no bad houses, only bad people.”

It’s not long before youngest child Chelsea (Chloe Grace Moretz) hooks up with an invisible friend named Jodie (Isabel Conner), the ghost of a slain DeFeo. Jodie wants Chelsea to join her in the afterlife, where she can meet her deceased dad (George is not the children’s biological father). This sets up the film’s most suspenseful scene when, at Jodie’s urging, Chelsea takes a stroll on the edge of the roof peak.

However, we’ve already slipped into “The Shining” scenario, with George obsessively welding an axe as he becomes possessed by the DeFeo evil. An added insight to the ten-times-told story is a legend about a sadistic minister, who long ago lived in the house and tortured Native Americans in the basement before slitting his own throat.

It’s no surprise that the Lutz escape their bad real estate investment after only 28 days, returning to sanity and a lucrative book-movie deal. Help the current Amityville “horror house” homeowner and do as the spirits say, “Stay out” (of the theater showing this Hollywood rehash).

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