“For the first time in 35 years, Daniel Lutz recounts his version of the infamous Amityville haunting that terrified his family in 1975. George and Kathy Lutz’s story went on to inspire a best-selling novel and the subsequent films have continued to fascinate audiences today. This documentary reveals the horror behind growing up as part of a world famous haunting and while Daniel’s facts may be other’s fiction, the psychological scars he carries are indisputable.”
A successful documentary, in my opinion, is one that isn’t full of biased ideas, but instead decides to present the viewer with what could or could not be and allows the viewer to decide for themselves. So often, documentaries fail to present that choice to the viewer, and they end up suffering when they rely on just the opinions and beliefs of the filmmaker. Luckily, this is not the case with Eric Walter’s completely engrossing documentary MY AMITYVILLE HORROR.
We all know the story of the Lutz family, but a side of the story not heard until now, is that of the oldest son, Daniel. In MY AMITYVILLE HORROR, Daniel comes clean about the experiences that have become legendary throughout years of mulitple films, books and now documentaries. Through a series of interviews between Daniel and director Eric Walters, along with psychiatrist meetings and various other conversations, the film tells a scary yet sad tale of a young boy who believes he was terrorized by spirits and even worse (to him), an evil stepfather.
What makes MY AMITYVILLE HORROR so enthralling, is that watching Lutz tell his story, you instantly feel for the guy. There’s a definite wall that he’s put up, due to years of being terrified and defensive, and throughout the film, you almost see small glimpses of the scared little boy that lived through the horrifying events at 112 Ocean Avenue that many people simply do not believe happened. What sets the film apart from many others, is that it doesn’t tell the viewer what to believe, and even if you don’t believe what Lutz says happened, you still are completely drawn to what the guy has to say. Throughout the film, his tough-guy shell slowly begins to fall little by little, and it’s evident through the heartbreak you see in his eyes, as he tells stories of hundreds of flies in his room, malevolent spirits sitting next to him, and most surprisingly, a stepfather who was knee deep in the occult, that he has lived a hard and tragic life.
It’s revelations like that of George Lutz practicing occultism that gives a fresh look at a story that so many people have heard throughout the years, and the film is full of moments that leave you with your mouth wide open, such as when Daniel along with Laura DiDio (an investigative reporter who had interviewed the Lutz family when the events happened) visit famed Paranormal Investigator & Demonologist Lorraine Warren (one of the many cases that Warren along with her late husband Ed investigated is now the subject of James Wan’s upcoming film THE CONJURING).
While talking to Lorraine Warren, we’re shown religious artifacts that Lorraine feels keeps her safe, such as a cross that contains pieces of the cross that Christ was supposedly crucified on, and it’s also an interesting moment between Warren and Lutz, when Lorraine reveals that her late husband never quite recovered from the experiences of investigating the Lutz home. The film is full of sad moments like this one, and the biggest victim of what supposedly happened in Amityville, is obvious Daniel. The moments between him and his meetings with a psychiatrist are especially interesting (and heartbreaking), as he’s more than forefront when he tells her that he’s constantly having to be his own bodyguard, there to protect that little boy who went through absolute hell growing up because of what his family went through and always being “the Amityville Horror kid”. While it’s heavily about the events at 112 Ocean Avenue, it’s just as much about the psychological scars that Daniel carries with him to this day, that he fights so hard to get rid of.
It’s a heartbreaking look at a voice that has been silent for 35 years, and how that voice is dying to get out. Believe what Lutz says or not, it’s an entertaining ride of a film, and is probably one of the best documentaries to have come out in years.
MY AMITYVILLE HORROR comes out in limited theatrical release on March 15th in NYC at IFC Center, as well as
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