"The Amityville Horror" (2005, Dimension Films, Michael Bay, Andrew Douglas) is the travesty of a remake of the classic 1979 film. Both films are based on the book, or 'true account', written in 1977 by Jay Anson (a compelling read by the way, I recommend!).
Seriously, who the hell let Michael Bay near the Amityville Horror!?
The plot centres around the Lutz family, who have recently moved in to the Amityville house, unaware of the its brutal past; the previous family, The DeFoes, were gruesomely murdered in their beds by a member of their own family. The Lutz family last a total of 28 days in the property...
The Lutzes soon notice suspicious things going on in the house; a presence in the kitchen, George Lutz (Ryan Reynolds) becoming aggravated, bad tempered and unable to keep warm despite burning hundreds of pounds' (or dollars, rather) worth of fuel. Noises, disturbances and general other ghostly goings on.
The children also become withdrawn and the youngest child, their daughter, Chelsea (although she is called Missy in the book and original film), begins to have an imaginary friend. In the original telling the friend, Jodie, is a demonic-looking pig who is spotted by other family members. In this version Jodie is the ghost of the murdered daughter of the DeFoe's. The character of Jodie is over dramatised in this version, I feel, and it becomes more of the haunting of Amityville House by Jodie (and that which is hunting her) than it is about the rapid feeling of dread and madness surrounding George, driving him to murder his family.
The only thing I felt worked about changing Jodie from a creature to the ghost of the girl is that Chelsea begins to carry a teddy bear, Jodie's bear. The bear she was buried with. Nicely haunting and a good touch to the plot.
The random death of certain characters and the over-the-top gore which had to be supernatural, as no one had been hurt, just didn't do it for me. I found this version to be a typical Michael Bay production; OTT, loud and jumping out at all the wrong points.
Ryan Reynold's performance as the step-father is faultless though. His transition from good-guy to aggressive-guy is rapid, but seemless. The children's sudden fear of him is believable.
Not a good remake is you enjoy the story or previous movies. It's a good basic modern horror movie, nothing more.