Directed by Eric Walter
Sadly, when most of us think about the horrific crimes and arcane supernatural occurrences that happened in 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, swarms of flies, boo scares and gratuitous shots of Ryan Reynolds’ abs come to mind. Due to the book The Amityville Horror written by Jay Anson, the film adaptation and its many inferior sequels, we rarely remember that this unsettling phenomenon was actually experienced by the unfortunate Lutz family when they fled the infamous house in 1975 only 28 days after moving in.
37 years later, director Eric Walter had the incredible chance to interview Daniel Lutz, a family member who was left traumatized after the unexplained events that happened when he was eight years old, and his experience has clearly taken a toll on him to this very day.
In the documentary Lutz speaks candidly of what it was like to live in the house, his absolute hatred for his late stepfather, George Lutz, and his interpretation of the horrifying memories he experienced, which unfortunately loses credibility the more defensive and angry Lutz becomes while being interviewed.
For the uninitiated My Amityville Horror proves to be an intriguing and concise character study; however, those expecting to see a frightening documentary exposing all the unheard horrors of 112 Ocean Avenue will be slightly disappointed as Walter’s goal is to critically observe and dissect Lutz’s psychological profile and behavior rather than further exploit the details of the hauntings any more than they already have been.
At first the documentary does provide some details to fulfill the viewers’ morbid curiosity by recalling the family massacre committed by Ronald DeFeo in the house on November 13, 1974, and when Lutz actually does open up about being possessed by a spirit, it immediately sends chills up everybody’s spines. Alas, when Lutz starts blaming his stepfather’s love for the occult for what happened, verbally attacking the director for his agnostic views on camera and refuses to take a lie detector test, it can be argued that dissecting Daniel Lutz is more deeply disturbing than the Amityville horror itself.
Throughout the documentary Lutz is teamed up with Laura DiDio, the loyal investigative reporter who interviewed Lutz as a child, and then Lorraine Warren, the eerie demonologist who investigated the Amityville house in 1976 and is well known to others as a fraud off camera. Although they both share strong personalities, rarely do they offer an unbiased opinion for the viewers to question, making the audience members that more skeptical of Lutz’s accounts.
While watching My Amityville Horror unfold, it may frustrate viewers as more questions are asked than answered, but it examines the frailty of human perception in such a brilliant way that you will be thinking about Daniel Lutz’s story long after the creepy end credits have rolled.
4 out of 5