My Amityville Horror (2013)
Review by Jude Felton
One of my earliest memories as a horror fan was of watching James Brolin going batshit crazy in the house in Amityville. It’s still a film I enjoy, although the majority of the sequels I can live without, and it’s also one of those films where the question arises of how much of the story was true. The house at 112 Ocean Drive was the scene of a mass murder, committed by Ronald Defeo, but it is what happened when the Lutz family moved in years later that has remained open to debate.
My Amityville Horror looks to shed some light on these questions, as it is a documentary where Danny Lutz, who was a young boy back in the 70s’, recalls for the first time the events that happened to his family.
Right from the beginning Danny, who is now 45, makes it clear that he doesn’t enjoy talking about this subject, which is quite obviously still difficult for him. However, for events that happened 35 years ago, he still vividly recalls them and goes into great lengths about his family history, and what happened once they moved into that iconic house.
The film itself is quite honestly a fascinating piece of cinema, and is riveting throughout. How much of Danny’s recollections are real and how much is an amalgamation of events in the movies and press, is open to conjecture. One thing is for sure, this is the sort of film that will spark much debate.
Danny does come across as quite hostile, and doesn’t have a single kind word to say about his adoptive father, George, and at times I was wondering why even commit to doing this film. It could be seen as some sort of catharsis on a personal level, a way to lay some ghosts to rest, or as the more cynical might suggest, a way for Danny to make a few dollars. That’s not for me to say, and I guess deep down only Danny knows the truth, yet it still does make for truly intriguing viewing.
There’s no doubt that strange events occurred in 112 Ocean Drive, although none have been reported since the Lutz’s fled, but to what degree I am sure we will never truly know. We can all make our own minds up, one way or another, of that I can be certain.
As well as talking directly to the camera, throughout his interview, there are also conversations with an investigative reporter, as well as a psychologist or two. In fact one psychologist ends up asking the very same questions that I am sure that many viewers will come up with. The main one being, how much of Danny’s recollections are as a result of events that happened in the 1979 movie? He would have been a teen when that was released, and we all know how impressionable the teenage years are.
What it all boils down to is that this is just one person telling their tale, and it’s up to each viewer to make of it what they will. As a film though, My Amityville Horror is great viewing and only adds further fuel to the fire of the theories surrounding that famous house, and events, in Long Island.
One thing is for damned sure, and that is that this film is far more compelling viewing than a film about haunted household appliances etc. The question remains though, do I remember in great detail what happened in my life 30 years ago? Do you? I think the answer to that question will result in how much you buy into Danny Lutz’s tale.
My Amityville Horror is a damned entertaining movie, one that asks just as many questions as it attempts to answer. It is well worth checking out when the chance arises.
My Amityville Horror is released theatrically by IFC Midnight and on VOD through SundanceNOW from March 15th.