Running Time: 89 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist
I was left a little bemused after watching the original Amityville Horror film. Many years ago, a group of school friends and myself rented both Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist and the aforementioned shocker at our local video shop and watched both films back to back. Having viewed and raved about Poltergeist, we looked forward to the thrills and spills that America’s most infamous house had to offer. After viewing the movie I really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. The Amityville Horror lacked chills and a few dodgy sequels didn’t really do much to change my mind.
Director Eric Walker has gone for a different approach regards the story by focussing his project on Daniel Lutz, one of the children that spent time at the property during 1975. For those that don’t know the backstory, George Lutz purchased the large Amityville house due to it selling at a rock bottom price. The price was low due to the previous family being massacred by the eldest son after he was allegedly possessed by demons. Not long after the Lutz family moved in to the address unexplained noises, insect infestations and elemental ghosts started to plague their stay. The original novel was inspired by George and Kathleen Lutz’s account of what happened during that terrifying period. It is only now that Daniel’s story has been revealed.
Now you might think that 89 minutes of listening to one man talk about how his life had been affected by his ordeal would grow tiresome after the first 10 minutes? Well, you’d be wrong. My Amityville Horror is a fascinating insight into the backstory and how an unconventional and unhappy family upbringing contributed more mental scars on Daniel than any of evil that allegedly resided within those walls. There is little doubt that he believes in the paranormal activity that took place all those years ago but has spent years suffering depression and mental problems because of his inability to cope with what happened. Yet most of his torment seemed to stem from his time with stepfather, George. Apparently the head of the Lutz family was a follower of the occult and an abusive guardian. In between Daniel’s interviews are numerous features and media clips that were taken at the time of the events. One shows a reporting team spending a night in the house with numerous psychics joining them. Although the documentary is open ended regards the validity of the events, there is a strong indication that any evil that permeated came from George Lutz rather than the house itself. There have been no complaints of paranormal activity since the family moved out.
My Amityville Horror is a gripping and impressive documentary of how a man’s life has been destroyed due to his inability to cope with the events of his past. It is certainly a case of fact being more interesting the fiction.