The Amityville Horror
dir. Douglas
Opens Fri April 15
Various Theaters

So there's this house. And about a year ago, this guy who lived there went nuts and killed his whole family, then killed himself. And now this other, whole new family wants to move in, and even though the realtor lady tells them about the house's history, they don't seem to care. They're happy, in love, and their awesome new house is totally affordable because of that whole mass murder thing.

This is what you find out in the first five minutes of the new Amityville Horror, and from there, the river of clichés flows fast and free. There's a scary little ghost girl, a scary little alive girl that can talk to the ghost girl, and a dad (Ryan Reynolds) who's not scary until the house makes him all crazy, and thus scary.

1979's original Amityville suffered from a stupid, implausible family that withstood the antics of the terrifying house when anyone else would have ran for the hills within the first week of living there. The new Amityville's characters are equally moronic, but it has better special effects--it actually shows the ghosts (the first movie didn't), and they're rather horrific, especially the dead girl. It's also got a bitchin' scene where the alive girl gets led up onto the roof of the (really tall) house by the dead girl, and everyone freaks out.

Despite some cool individual scenes, however, the new Amityville lacks overall tension. It does throw in some flimsy backstory about the house (which the original lacked), but all that will linger by movie's end are some of the cool set pieces, Reynolds' incredibly ripped bod, and the part where the ghost girl makes the babysitter dig her finger into the bloody bullet hole in her forehead. Now that's entertainment.