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The Amityville Horror review

So the Michael Bay re-imagination factory cranks up to process another '70s blood-fest through its meat grinder. And, like the surprisingly effective Texas Chainsaw, this new-fangled Amityville emerges as an atmospheric, if generic, thriller.

This time around, the production didn't have the headache of retooling a "classic", as 1979's The Amityville Horror is hardly a titan of the genre. But director Andrew Douglas has hewn fairly close to the original's take on the `true' story of a family's travails in a `haunted' house.

All the tricks are in place: the jump cuts, the sudden creaks, the flows of blood from taps, walls and floorboards, the homicidally-inclined taunts. Taken on their own, this new trip to Amityville might have descended into sub-Shining territory, as George Lutz is slowly driven mad by the forces in the basement.

But what really breaks this from the shackles of its routine scare tactics is the cast. Reynolds subdues his usual quick wit but leaves the charisma intact to make George a caring father figure, while Melissa George finds hidden wrinkles in the thankless role of devoted wife turned traumatised victim. Hell, even the Lutz sprogs never feel like stock horror characters.

It doesn't break any new ground in the over-crowded cemetery of Hollywood chillers, but a visit to this haunted house makes for a decent Friday-night fright.

'Truth' may be stranger than fiction in this case, but it's still a schlocky horror that's made surprisingly scary by two solid performances.

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