This morning, Paul, R.J. and I went to an industry screening of "The Amityville Horror" (2005). It was kind of a double-edged sword. It was a scary movie. But, it wasn't a faithful adaptation of the novel. In fact, the credits read "based on the screenplay by Sandor Stern based on the novel by Jay Anson", so it was more based on the original movie (which had added stuff to the story and removed stuff from the story to begin with).
One of the strangest changes, I thought, was depicting the ghost "Jody" (the daughter's "imaginary friend" who may not be so imaginary) as one of the deceased DeFeo children (when in the book and the previous movie Jody had been described as being a pig). I at first thought, since I read the book when I was in fourth grade (which was, um, nearly thirty years ago), that I'd misremembered this fact, but I've gone back to my copy of the book...yes, I still have that same copy from so many years ago and I remembered correctly. There is even a drawing by the daughter of Jody and it is definitely an animal of some sort.
The ghosts are seen throughout and are not only of the DeFeo family, but also apparently of Native Americans who were killed in the house in the late 1600's/early 1700's. I never heard this part of the story until watching this movie, but see that it was part of the original fictionalized version of the DeFeo murders in "Amityville II:The Possession" and is also listed on the Warrens' website (Ed and Lorraine Warren who were amongst the few psychic investigators who worked on the Amityville House case).
The effects of the ghosts were creepy and scary. So, in that respect, this movie may be considered a success. However, this movie would have worked just as easily as a generic haunted house without setting it in the infamous house at 112 Ocean Ave and portraying George and Kathy Lutz (once again, the children's names had been changed from the book). I saw some influence from the recent Japanese horror movies that have become hits in this movie in the way the ghosts were depicted...very "Grudge/Ju On" like.
Overall, as a generic horror movie in the haunted house subgenre, I'd have to give it an A. As an adaptation of this particular story it is about a C.
Out of a possible $10.00 I would be willing to pay:
as a generic horror movie - 8.00 out of 10.00
as the Amityville Horror - 5.50 out of 10.00
...alright rant done.