Back in 1979, writer Jay Anson wrote a story about a real-life newlywed couple that moved into a new house in Long Island where a murder was committed. Upon moving in, the couple and their three children began to experience strange occurrences and manifestations that could not be easily explained.
The book was The Amityville Horror and its popularity in paperback drove MGM Studio’s to option a screenplay by Sandor Stern (Pin) which soon became a popular movie of the same name starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder. The Amityville house soon became – and still is – the most recognized haunted house in the world. And even though the Lutz family moved out when the terror reached its pinnacle 35-years ago, the experiences and memories of the horrors experienced in the house haunts the family to this day.
Daniel Lutz was a member of the terrorized Amityville family and his story of experiences back in 1975 is the focus of My Amityville Horror, a new documentary by filmmaker Eric Walter. Daniel has stayed fairly quiet about his family’s ordeal three decades ago and now he is ready to tell his story and reveal the psychological strains and scars that have plagued him for 35 years. The documentary that includes exhaustive research by Walter includes perspectives of those close to either the family or the house during the events of 1975 and many are interviewed offering their insight and recollection into what may have (or have not) happened to the fated Lutz family.
For those expecting a seriously scary insight into the unexplained events in the Amityville home, you may be disappointed. My Amityville Horror doesn’t offer any new real insights. Daniel does speak of levitating beds, the infestation of flies and a few other unexplainable phenomena, but the heart of the movie is really a character study of the boy who became a man amongst media scrutiny and mockery.
Daniel comes across as a complex and angry man. He calls his experience in Amityville an ‘unfortunate gift’ and he gets defensive if cornered (Lesson learned: Don’t ever ask Daniel to take a lie detector test). He is both playful and willing but when discussing uneasy topics such as his turbulent relationship with his stepfather, George Lutz, Daniel can be seen almost frothing at the mouth barely containing his rage so that his blood pressure doesn’t make his head explode on screen.
Audiences will endear themselves to the older Daniel. He will remind you of the guy who sits at the end of the bar at the local tavern and has fascinating stories to tell. He won’t be the type of person that gives you comfort and who you might pursue to tend to your children, but he is genuine and honest through the many layers of his complex personality.
As a documentary, Watler’s meticulous detail and use of both stock and family photos allow us a glimpse into the Lutz family. Not so much a glimpse into the house that the Lutz family thought possessed, but a rare peak into a complex and dysfunctional family that may or may not have been terrorized by spirits in their Ocean Ave. home.