The Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror (2005)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Moretz
Extras: DVD version with Commentary Track, Featurettes and Deleted Scenes

Its that time of year again, the time that sees cooler nights and shorter days, leaves on the trees are starting to turn a delightful golden-brown and we all accept the fact that summer is beginning to become a faint memory. With Halloween already on the horizon, here is our take on the recent remake of "The Amityville Horror," which is now available in high definition for the first time.

With the trend to update classic horror tales from the past, this tired franchise is no exception, adding glossy special effects and a slightly altered take on the basic story, there is not a whole lot of originality going on with this film.

When George (Ryan Reynolds) and Kathy (Melissa George) Lutz move their family into a mysterious Long Island home, one that has its share of dark secrets tucked deep within its foundation, strange things begin to happen. Managing to only last a mere twenty-eight days, the Lutz family soon discovers that there dream home has become a virtual nightmare! With the restless spirits from the previous owners, who were all be murdered by a family member while they slept, terrorizing and adding to various macabre findings around the house, forces the Lutz family to flee the home on night with only the clothes on their backs.

Claiming that the original story is based on actual true facts is a separate controversy all its own. There are some who accuse the real-life George Lutz of concocting this rather elaborate story, simply to walk away from his burdening mortgage. While other individuals believe that the brutal murders, which occurred at the home only one year prior to the Lutz family moving in, just serve to contribute to the rather sinister past of this particular parcel of land. I'll let you be the judge of who you choose to believe.

MGM Home Entertainment provides a surprisingly good high definition transfer of the movie on this release. Since it a fairly new movie, the presentation is without blemishes and defects, and dishes out a good level of detail throughout. Black levels are rich in depth with great shadow detail, which helps to produce a razor-sharp transfer that is certainly living up to expectations. The transfer's color saturation is equally impressive, providing naturally appearing flesh tones while displaying lush color detail that included everything from the lush green tones of the Long Island region, to the deep reds that were prevalent in most gore filled scenes.

For sound, MGM Home Entertainment has provided a great sounding DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track. The soundtrack is really loaded up with extra bass, which did a great job of adding sonic depth to suspense filled sequences. Dialogues were mixed to appear natural in reproduction, combined with good use of all available channels, to offer a pleasing experience all around.

Now here we come back to MGM's notoriously lazy approach to Blu-Ray that is making them one of the most frustrating studios in the market these days. Why? Well, because the Blu-Ray Disc does not contain any extras. If you want to learn more about the film you will have to actually put the DVD version in that is included in the package as well. I don't want to sound overly harsh, but whose hare-brained idea was that again? Think, people, think… it is not really rocket science. Most of us would call it common sense, especially when you have a commentary track. Yes, folks, in order to listen to the commentary track you will have to endure the standard definition DVD version of the movie. Sorry, but I have no tolerance for BS like this.

In case you can get yourself to actually insert the DVD disc in your player you will find there the full-length audio commentary with participation from actor Ryan Reynolds and producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller. Also included are the featurettes "Supernatural Homicide" and "The Source of Evil," paired with an "On Set Peeks" segment, followed by a total of eight deleted scenes, photo gallery and a preview section to complete the added value materials.

If you are looking for a cheap thrill this Halloween, then this update of "The Amityville Horror" might be just what you are looking for, but if you're hoping to be surprised by a great story with great performances, then you might want to look elsewhere. Given MGM Home Entertainment's thoughtless and inadequate treatment of the Blu-Ray version however, I can not wholeheartedly recommend this release regardless of the improvements in video and audio quality.