A family is terrorized by a malevolent presence after they
move into a house where a family was brutally murdered.
The Amityville Horror (1979)
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Written by Sandor Stern
Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger,
Don Stroud, Natasha Ryan, K.C. Martel,
Meeno Peluce, Val Avery, Murray Hamilton
Based on the book by Jay Anson
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Score (Lalo Schifrin)
The Amityville Horror is a surprisingly frightening film, mainly because the audience is as unsure of what's happening as the characters are. Legend says that the events of this film really happened to the Lutz family in the winter of 1975. Watching the film with this in mind greatly increases its fear factor. Though, even if you think the story is a lie, you can't help but admit that something weird happened to this family that changed them forever. Whether that was something paranormal or otherwise, it happened. This film surely exaggerates a great deal, but it tells the story justly.
The film rips off a great deal from Stephen King's The Shining, particularly the dad's descent into madness due to the vague but dangerous spirits of the house. However, unlike The Shining, the story isn't resolved nor do we learn what was possessing the house. Instead, the family does what they should have done when things started happening. They get the hell out of there! It's the abrupt ending that disappointed me the most, especially when there's so much more story to tell about the house. I don't want to have to watch a string of crappy sequels to learn where this evil presence came from.
If it weren't for certain scenes that terrified me to the core, The Amityville Horror wouldn't have sold me. The performances aren't very good and the story is weak compared to other ghost films with similar premises. Still, it's a decent film that utilizes its creepy score and disturbing visuals to create something that sticks in the viewer's mind, which in the end is what horror is all about.