THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (Andrew Douglas). 100 minutes. Opens Friday (April 15). For venues and times, see Movies, page 99. Rating: N Rating: N
Poor Philip Baker Hall . The craggy-faced character actor works regularly with director Paul Thomas Anderson and has done great work for Robert Altman and Lars von Trier. Now, in The Amityville Horror , he plays a priest who gets chased out of a haunted house by a swarm of buzzing flies. His big line? "For God's sake, get out!"
Well, Philip, it ain't so easy.
Director Andrew Douglas bludgeons us in our seats with repetitive images of rotting corpses brought back to life while the deafening score rumbles and shrieks.
This remake of the 1979 cult classic (loosely based on real events), about a family who move into a house that drips blood and drives one of its male inhabitants to commit murder, is a quickie boo! movie done on the cheap.
It's awkwardly paced, the actors (except for Hall) are undisciplined, and all of the effects budget seems to have gone into the same yellow-green makeup used in The Ring films.
The original movie, while an obvious Exorcist rip-off, at least boasted energetic turns by James Brolin and Margot Kidder.
Ryan Reynolds 's performance as the demented patriarch consists of displaying his six-pack, hauling his axe around and peering at his cowering family through red-orange-tinted contact lenses. Melissa George seems to be forever huddled in the kitchen.
On the plus side, there's a passable babysitter sequence, and Douglas photographs the many angles of the Gothic house's exterior with care.
But this B movie feels like a direct-to-DVD release. The horror, the horror.