The Amityville Horror appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The transfer consistently satisfied.
Sharpness looked terrific. At no time did I discern any instances of softness or ill-defined shots. Instead, the movie consistently came across as nicely accurate and concise. I saw no issues connected to jagged edges or shimmering, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. The movie lacked any examples of print flaws. I witnessed no specks, marks, or other defects during this clean and smooth presentation.
Like most modern flicks in its genre, Amityville gave us a pretty restricted palette. This usually alternated between a desaturated bleached look and chilly blues. Though not a vivid presentation, the disc seemed to replicate the movie’s intended palette; the colors were appropriately vivid when necessary and seemed accurately depicted.
Black levels also came across well. Dark shots demonstrated good depth and clarity. Low-light shots were nicely displayed and seemed clear and adequately visible. Shadow was clean and tight. Given the darkness seen in much of the film, those components became especially important, so their high quality was an important factor in the success of the transfer. Overall, the image of Amityville appeared very strong.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it went with a fairly active experience. Given the movie’s near-constant attempts to scare us, the mix featured a lot of elements that popped up all around the room. While the frights didn’t succeed, I couldn’t fault the sound designers, as they kicked the track into high gear and provided a smooth, blended sense of the various spooky/shocking elements.
They also created a mix with good audio quality. Speech was always concise and natural, and the score showed solid clarity and heft. Effects demonstrated strong power and accuracy as well, and the loud moments packed a nice low-end punch. This was good enough for a positive “B+”.
As an extra, the Blu-ray set includes the original 2005 DVD that was available commercially. That’s also the repository of almost all the supplements we’ll find, so don’t expect anything new. The Blu-ray includes the film’s trailer and that’s it.
Over on the DVD, we open with an audio commentary from producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller and actor Ryan Reynolds. All of them sit together for a running, screen-specific chat about sets, locations and production design, makeup and effects, stunts, cast and performances, period details, attempts at realism and themes, music, story and editing.
Even without the film’s director on hand, this becomes a pretty interesting piece. The three men interact well and throw out a nice mix of details. Reynolds contributes some humor as well, and we get a reasonably informative look at the film.
Two featurettes follow. Supernatural Homicide goes for 17 minutes, 33 seconds and provides notes from former Amityville chief of police Ken Greguski, Suffolk County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Howard Adelman, and “interpreter for the dead” Lorraine Warren. The show takes a lot at the DeFeo murders in a few ways: Adelman and Gregulski stick to the facts, while Warren discusses potential supernatural elements. When the piece follows the first path, it’s decent, but it goes off the rails when it indulges Warren’s particular brand of psychic kookery.
The Source of Evil lasts 26 minutes, 28 seconds and features Reynolds, Fuller, Form, producer Michael Bay, screenwriter Scott Kosar, director Andrew Douglas, action coordinator Kenny Bates, production designer Jennifer Williams, and actors Melissa George, Jesse James, Jimmy Bennett, Chloe Grace Moretz, Isabel Conner, and Rachel Nichols. The program discusses the re-adaptation of the story, cast, characters and performances, makeup, stunts and effects, Douglas’ work on the film, and production design.
“Source” delivers a fairly average “making of “ featurette. It covers a standard array of filmmaking topics and does so in a reasonably competent manner. Nothing special emerges, but it always remains watchable.
Next we get On Set Peeks . This offers a branching feature that takes you away from the movie nine times to show behind the scenes material. Unfortunately, there’s no apparent method to watch these without sitting through the whole flick, which makes the feature a drag, especially since it only accompanies the DVD version; at least if it also came with the Blu-ray presentation, it’d go along with the one purchasers would want to view.
Not that any sane person would actually want to watch the flick with nine interruptions. Even when they provide good content, I don’t care for features of this sort unless they include a separate viewing option. This one doesn’t, so it ends up as an awkward way to explore the film.
Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of seven minutes, 46 seconds. We find “Family Toast” (1:14), “Kathy Buys Groceries” (0:57), “Kathy Gives Chelsea a Bath” (0:24), “Charlie and Girlfriend Visit George” (1:12), “Chelsea and Michael Argue” (1:14), “Kathy and George Arrive to Lights Flashing” (1:14), “Kathy and George Argue” (1:25), and “Original Etch-a-Sketch from Dailies” (0:06). Most of these don’t give us more than a little extra creepy material. “Charlie” includes two unused characters, which makes it marginally more interesting, but don’t expect much from these pieces.
We can watch these with or without commentary from Reybolds, Form and Fuller. They give us some production notes and let us know why the sequences got cut. The commentary provides useful information.
Finally, we get a Photo Gallery that splits into three areas. We find “Crime Scene” (74 screens), “House Interior” (17) and “Ghosts and Torture” (24). “Crime” shows props and photos related to the film’s prologue, “Interior” offers pictures of the sets, and “Ghosts” displays sketches connected to the basement and the house’s evil past. All are interesting to see.
Maybe 20 years from now someone will make a good version of The Amityville Horror. I do believe the basic story could work, but the 2005 incarnation does nothing to appropriate develop the property. Instead, it goes for the cheapest of scare tactics and lacks any form of cleverness or honest terror. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, very good audio and a reasonably useful set of supplements. I like this release but don’t care for the movie itself.