The home is a sanctuary in which we as humans are meant to feel safe. Home is where the heart is and never do we think that the world’s terrors could walk through our doors and flip our world upside down. The Amityville Horror is an example of a safe place being turned into a nightmare.
The film’s plot is something that we as horror fans are familiar with. A family moves into a house with a storied past and weird things begin to happen. Not only does the house do funny things but the inhabitants of the house begin to feel its wrath as well. The strong, manly father begins to become sick and weak. The mother becomes irrational and even the family dog begins to run around in circles for no apparent reason.
What makes The Amityville Horror unique in a sense is its blending of different horror genres. While the house clearly has a mind of its own and has supernatural tendencies, it is clear that demons have taken over the house. Ghost, supernatural, and most importantly, demon qualities are molded together. This movie incorporates and inspires tons of other films. It has bits of The Exorcist, The Changeling, and The Shining while also seemingly inspiring films like Paranormal Activity and even house horrors like Funny Games or The Strangers.
Ultimately, this film is entrenched in horror history and has a strong following, but there are things about this film that are major flaws for me. For one, the run time is just too long. If a horror movie is going to be close to two hours it has to keep the viewers entertained. There were parts of this film where I was simply bored. Another issue is its complete lack of scares. Again, the idea of the home being invaded and the fact that this is meant to be a true story adds fear to the viewing experience, but there is nothing that stands out in the fear category. This could be due to the age of the film or the exhaustion of this theme, but the fact is that I didn’t walk away from this film being scared. Furthermore, the ending is anticlimactic. I felt let down by the evolution of the characters and the ultimate payoff.
If I am judging this film based on its importance to horror in a historical sense, then it deserves a high score. If I am judging it on its current viewing experience and its effect on horror today, then it doesn’t receive top marks. Ultimately you have to respect the film, but you don’t necessarily have to love it, which is why it's “good”, but it is nowhere close to great.
Horror island is receiving a demon that just won’t let go of the house it lives in. Is it possible for the other monsters on the island to perform a proper exorcism on this house? That is yet to be seen. Some of these newer horror creatures don’t necessarily have respect for the classics, so I wouldn’t be surprised if The Amityville Horror is seen as the grandpa of the island.
If you liked The Amityville Horror, you might also like The Shining or Paranormal Activity.