Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Amityville Horror (1979) Film Review
The classic horror movie, spiced up with a whiff of veracity, is the simple formula that made The Amityville Horror the blockbuster that it was. Even now, 25 years later, it has lost little of its power to shock and disturb.
The portrayal of George and Kathy Lutz (James Brolin and Margot Kidder) is heartfelt and engaging. Much of the unease is generated from George's personal breakdown and its ramifications on the rest of the family.
Kidder had just been seen as Lois Lane in Superman and she is every bit as beautiful here. Kathy's vulnerability to George's temper creates delicious tension as shocks snap in the scenes of her dreams. The gore is neither excessive nor blatant, thus retaining a power to make you jump. These brief glimpses of mangled or shot people and the axe in the door, reminded me of The Shining and I was surprised to see that Stuart Rosenberg's film predates Kubrick's.
The house itself is a major character, mostly through the "eyes" of its Dutch colonial attic windows and spooky exterior shots, accompanied by the falsetto choir, again predating a modern equivalent, Jackson's Ring, as object anthropomorphized. The interiors indicate a nice house and yet you wonder why they stayed after finding the tiny walled room in the basement, described as "the way to hell"?
The support roles and the children are well played, especially Natasha Ryan, as Amy, who sees her imaginary friend Jody as a demonic red-eyed pig. Also memorable is Rod Steiger, as the priest, a family friend who is drawn into the curse.
The influence this film has had on the genre is as great as that of the book on which it was based, and, unlike many of its contemporaries, it has aged well.Reviewed on: 12 Apr 2005