It must be luck, karma or unoriginality that serves me up 2 Hollywood remakes simultaneously, but this one isn't too bad actually.
Regardless of if you believe the tale or if you think it a hoax, this is typical horror fodder i.e. a haunted house story. We open the movie with the sight of the previous family, the DeFeo's, being slaughtered by the eldest son with a shotgun. Cut to the soon-to-be new tenants, the Lutz family, showing us how happy they are before they move in. Anyway, they buy this shockingly cheap house and soon, spookiness permeates the home from seeing a young girl hanged to temperature shifts and windows opening at 3.15am, something clearly wants these people to GET OUT. However if they did, it would be a very short movie and a duller tale, so they stay, all the while George (Reynolds), the father-figure is getting stranger and stranger in a Shining-esque kind of way, with a short temper and mood swings, not to mention the imaginary friend of the little girl making her do potentially deadly stunts, such as climbing the roof. However, when it gets a little too much, as well as a heads-up from someone, Kathy (George) soon gets a lot more clued up about the goings on in the house - all the while the clock is ticking in, as unbeknown to them, 28 days is all they have.
Well, I didn't mind this remake too much, but you'll have to forgive me as I've not seen the original since the '80's, so that's hardly fresh in my mind. The bearded Ryan Reynolds does his best to look like James Brolin from the original and in parts, he succeeds even to the point where you can forget him as being Van Wilder - he certainly is the best I've seen him in his short-ish movie career, although he did show this kind of promise back in the TV show “The Outer Limits”. Melissa George I'm only familiar with as being in Alias, so forgive me if I've missed her in anything else. Here she is perfectly fine being the unlikely heroine of the piece. In fact it was while watching this that I realized that all the time women wanted stronger characters for them, they've had them all along in the horror genre. The list is endless from Halloween, Elm Street and so forth, so maybe it's more a stigma that women wanted stronger female roles in any genre other than horror ? Ok, went off a bit there, but that's exactly what we have here - a non-exploited female who saves the day by standing up to the evil in her very home and this was true in the original if I can remember it correctly. Speaking of Alias, isn't it ironic that the actress who plays Lisa, the babysitter, is also in Alias? Small world. Primarily this is a two horse race in terms of acting, the children while being catalysts for some of the strange happenings aren't terrible, ok one isn't great, but our focus is on George and his descent into madness and Kathy, who has to save the day or die trying.
Horror wise, this isn't particularly gory, in fact other than one scene, I can't really recall much in the way of blood, although when the truth is revealed, we see come barbaric scenes. So we're left with the premise of psychological horror - the descent into madness - and stingers, which if cranked very loud, would probably work, but they are mostly telegraphed as seems to be the norm these days. With one exception, this isn't a CGI fest either, which is a welcome change, but then in all honesty other than the “fly” scene, it doesn't need any. However one thing this has that I don't remember is the ghostly girl, Jodie, which made me automatically think it was trying to recreate a feel or similarity to the Asian horror cinema scene, in particular “The Grudge” and “The Ring” which Hollywood have already remade, but it does hold up the horror tradition of one final scare - so there's a knowing nod there too.
So, in conclusion, what do I think? Well, it's fun, but it's not scary, so if you're looking for real chills, there are better out there. On the flip side, it's certainly better than a lot of the PG-13 horrors we've had to contend with recently like Boogeyman and the Ring 2, so with that said, if you want fun but don't expect to be frightened, this is worth picking up.
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