With the recent flurry of cinematic activity around the Amityville legacy, I've been thinking... how would you do the next movie if you were in charge as writer/director?
The easiest answer, of course, would be to redo the original Lutz story as accurately as possible. But it's not terribly practical. As diluted and fictionalized as they were, audiences have seen that story twice on the big screen - another remake would be a tough sell. Instead, I got to thinking about what George Lutz said about his own project - a fictional story that "brings people back" to the original story. I think that would make more sense.
My Amityville movie would be a sequel - but not to Dollhouse or the remake or any of the other films. It would be a sequel to the true story as the Lutzes claimed it. I'd sprinkle in background exposition through dialogue, and maybe an opening title card. Ideally, I'd also either set up a website or use marketing (trailers, posters, etc) to direct the public to this one. As for the story itself, it would be set in the present day. The house, as in reality, has been lived in without problems for decades. The "dusty old wreck" route taken by Amityville: The Nightmare Continues seems cliche and tacky to me, and besides, it takes away from the connection to reality I'm after. The latest owner moves out peacefully, reporting no strange phenomena. A new family moves in, happy and optimistic. That's when things start to go wrong.
The idea is that Jodie left to follow the Lutzes, as they claimed in real life. This clears up a couple of problems - firstly, I don't need to put a goofy-looking demon pig on the screen. Secondly, using "Jodie" and "Amityville" together would probably just make most of the public think of the terribly generic and awfully disrespectful "Jodie DeFeo" from the 2005 movie. Instead, some of the other apparent multitude of entities would have stayed behind. I'd include the hooded demon in the fireplace and on the stairs, as it's been excluded from every Amityville movie so far. The same goes for the little boy's ghost.
The reasoning behind the decades of peace is simple. Allow me to repeat a phrase (probably incorrectly) - "The Devil's greatest accomplishment is convincing the world he doesn't exist." After the publicity from the DeFeo murders and Lutz hauntings, the entities have sort of gone into hiding. Had they continued to rampage, they would have had to deal with an increasingly attentive and concerned public, along with tons of ghost hunters, demonologists, religious types, et cetera. Instead, they've been biding their time until they're considered a hoax. This is also an excuse to "Hollywood it up" a bit and include some more extreme things than were in the original Lutz account; the entities are furious at having to wait so long for their fun, and powerful from their years of rest. I'd also address the "just get the hell out" problem. The Lutzes claimed they felt subliminally compelled to stay in the house. That's hard to convey to a mass audience onscreen. To ratchet up the terror factor and close a potential plot hole, I'll make use of another of the house's supposed real-life "abilities". Just as the family realizes what kind of danger they're in, they are trapped within - but no one on the outside can hear them.
As for things I won't include, besides Jodie:
--The Indian mumbo-jumbo
--Haunted lamps, dollhouses, clocks, and mirrors
--A huge underground labyrinth where the red room should be
--A sprawling Gothic mansion that looks nothing like the real house
But of course, there would be flies. Oh such flies would there be!
Also - two final and perhaps controversial choices. First, I'd keep it as secular as possible. Heavy Christian themes limit the audience and the fright factor. I'm not saying no religion allowed - but don't expect any heroic priests, vomiting nuns, last-minute exorcisms, or upside-down crosses. Secondly, I'd shoot it in 3D. I love 3D, and horror movies in particular work well in the format.
Thoughts on my idea? One of your own? Post away!