Sunday, 29 April 2012

The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Amityville Horror (Stuart Rosenberg, 1979) tells the less than riveting tale of boring white-bread George and Kathy Lutz (played by James Brolin and Margot Kidder), who move into a boring suburban house (played by a boring suburban house). The following "horrors" occur: there is a random draft. George Lutz is a dick to his wife. Money goes missing. A kindergartener invents an imaginary friend. A door sticks shut. A window sticks shut. Kathy Lutz sees a raccoon. If these are "horrors", my apartment needs an exorcist, so I suggest we retitle this movie The Amityville Annoyance.

"Oh god, our tap drips!"
There must have been some kind of a vogue in the 70s for representing life milestones like buying a house and having a baby as horrific ordeals (Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, and now this). Being part of a trend would start to explain why this Iconic Horror Classic is such a snoozer. It's less that there's anything wrong with The Amityville Horror than that there's nothing right with it. No scares, no T+A, no decent gore. It's just two hours of minor inconveniences occasionally juxtaposed with cheesy Catholic statues. I guess it's sort of creepy when the Lutzes find a hidden "Red Room" in their basement, but then Rosenberg ruins it by sticking a superimposed floating dream James Brolin Face on the wall. (As it happens, James Brolin looks hilariously undone in this movie: 3/4 Charles Manson, 1/4 John the Baptist).


The Amityville Horror gets a 2/5. If nothing else, it has decent production values: the blood looks pretty real, if you don't count the fact that it's oozing out of cracks in the stairs and not human beings. Also, when Kathy Lutz goes to the seminary to talk to Father Delaney (Rod Steiger) about her bad real estate, you can see a nun in the background playing basketball. That's got to count for something.

"Overgrown flower child? Me?"
FINAL GIRL: Margot Kidder as Kathy Lutz (no one actually dies in this movie, so she's less "Final Girl" and more "Irritating Lady We're Forced To Spend Two Hours With"). Rosenberg's got Kidder doing her whimsical best to out-waif Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby and in the process he keeps sticking her in ridiculous costumes: pigtails, schoolgirl skirt, knee socks, legwarmers, daisies and ribbons in hair. For real. Pigtails on a woman who is supposed to have three school-age children from a previous relationship and appears to be well into her thirties. Manic Pixie Dream Girl by way of the Mopey Pixie Nightmare Mom sub-species. Probably the scariest thing in the movie.

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