My Amityville Horror is a bizarre (but strangely riveting) documentary focused on Daniel Lutz as he recounts events from the infamous Amityville haunting on 112 Ocean Avenue in 1975. Now middle-aged, Lutz doesn’t appear to have recovered from the media frenzy. The documentary tries to uncover the truth behind the events – was it really a supernatural entity haunting the house or was it a hoax that Lutz keeps up to this day?
The Lutz family bought the large house at a knock-down price following a mass-killing at Ocean Avenue, but they only stayed in the house for 28 days. During that time they were allegedly plagued by an infestation of flies, odd smells, sightings of evil pigs and demonic possession. It’s a tale that has been told many times in a variety of movies and books and there has been much speculation whether George and Kathy Lutz simply created a hoax for financial reasons or to gain fame. It’s become a monumental urban legend and the story is woven into modern culture, meaning that it is now almost impossible to tell fact from fiction.
My Amityville Horror never really gets to the bottom of that central question, how could it? But the film is a fascinating insight into Lutz. He’s clearly a man with anger issues (most of which stem from his adoptive father George) who furiously defends his family’s claims that the haunting took place. In nearly every interview session he appears not to want to talk about the events, but he soon opens up and tells the tale with great detail and passion. It’s this routine that makes me think that Lutz isn’t sincere. It’s almost as if everything is about him, that telling the tale is his parlour trick. His seething rage when asked if he would take a lie detector test shows that he’s not a man to be second-guessed. Maybe that’s why it is now his version of The Amityville Horror.
Lutz has no love for his now deceased stepfather George. It’s clear from the film that he was a controlling, abusive man and Lutz states that George was far from the everyday family man depicted in the media. He claims that George dabbled in the supernatural and that he helped to bring out the evil in Ocean Avenue. My Amityville Horror makes you think that events in the house may have been an overblown ‘domestic’, and watching Lutz talk about his stepfather makes you wonder if George’s abuse may have been so physically traumatic that it has scarred Daniel for life. That might just be the real Amityville Horror.
Eric Walter’s film is more of a character study of Daniel Lutz. He’s a man who doesn’t fire on all cylinders. There’s something off about him and that’s what makes My Amityville Horror so captivating. In a way, it doesn’t matter if we never know what happened in 112 Ocean Avenue in 1975. As John Ford memorably taught us – when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.