Review: My Amityville Horror / Cert: 15 / Director: Eric Walter / Screenplay: Eric Walter / Starring: Daniel Lutz, Laura DiDio / Release Date: October 28th
Everyone knows the story: in December 1975, George Lutz moved his new wife Cathy and her kids into their new home, a house that they bought for just $80,000 thanks to some unsavoury murders which had occurred just over a year before. The rest is cinematic history.
While the on-screen legacy that was spawned from the Lutzes' lucrative book continues to thrive (thanks to a flurry of films inspired by the tale, including the 1979 original, the 2005 remake and two more recent variations), it’s the question of the tale’s authenticity which has endured the most. Was the house really possessed? Was it just a group hallucination or was it simply a way of cashing in?
It’s not like this hasn’t been covered before. The 2005 DVD release of the original film came with the History Channel’s episodes entitled Amityville: The Haunting and Amityville: Horror or Hoax, both of which went into great detail about the ‘phenomenon’, featuring believers and sceptics alike. The difference here is that we are given access to something quite unique: Daniel Lutz.
To say that Daniel Lutz has been damaged by the events which occurred to him when he was just a boy is a vast understatement. Although that’s not to give weight to his claims. Regardless of whether he was possessed by demonic spirits or just suffering from delusions fuelled by his hatred of his stepfather (or whether he just made the whole thing up), he comes across as being a tortured soul who has had problems keeping his life together since.
Consequently, with Daniel as the main focus, the film is less an exposé of the ‘horror’ itself and more an analysis of the man. Throughout the prolonged, dimly-lit interviews Lutz recounts increasingly outlandish stories, all spoken with complete conviction. These are interspersed with psychologists and people close to the mythology, who discuss possible reasons for Danny’s ‘realistic’ memories. These range from seeing the film to stories he may have heard from his stepfather.
While some of the first-hand revelations are interesting, it can’t stop this documentary from being unutterably dull. It’s conceivable that director Eric Walter (who also made Amityville: The Final Testament featuring Ronald DeFeo, the man who murdered his family at the house in 1974) was seeking to make something creepy and groundbreaking here. Instead what we have is a rehash of a story told far too many times already and a sad look at a man who comes across as being delusional and broken. In seeking to unravel a story of one man cashing in on a crazy horror story, Walter has done exactly that himself.