Many horror fans will be familiar with the name Amityville , and its reputation as the venue of one of the most notorious haunted houses in the United States. After all, a search of "Amityville" on IMDb will return an extensive list of horror films and documentaries based around the now familiar house which resembles a face. There is now a new addition to that list.
Published in 1977, The Amityville Horror, written by Jay Anson became a phenomenon which captured the imagination of a generation of paranormal thrill seekers. It is the story of the Lutz family and their experiences of terrifying demonic events that allegedly happened in the their Long Island residence. A media frenzy followed, paranormal investigators were queuing up to get inside the house, and of course, there were the countless films that followed from 1979 to the present day. In My Amityville Horror, Eric Walter gets Daniel Lutz to tell his story, living inside the house.
The house itself is located in the suburban neighbourhood of Amityville, and was the scene of a grisly murder spree. Ronald DeFeo Jr. had murdered all six members of his immediate family as they lay asleep in their beds one night. Thirteen months later, George and Kathleen Lutz moved into the house with their three children. They lasted just twenty-seven days before moving back out, claiming that they could not cope with the level of demonic and ghostly goings-on in the house. The house became a mecca for those interested in the paranormal. Tales of levitation, hordes of flies, and aggressive acts carried out by an unseen force, are just some of the events reported. It is worth noting that owners of the property since, have not experienced the phenomena that the Lutz family claimed to have witnessed.
Now in his fifties, Daniel Lutz is the basis of this film, which not only documents his experiences in the house, but also his connection with his family, and the psychological impact of the house that he lives with to this day. He is followed into a psychiatric session as well as a reunion with the journalist who first broke the news of the haunting, and renowned clairvoyant and paranormal investigator, Lorraine Warren - who has recently been bought to the fore in the film The Conjuring.
Lutz is an intense character - evidenced by his body language, language and behaviour. Having dealt with skeptics over the years, he has become a very untrusting person. Eric Walter does a reasonable job in offering a well-rounded perspective of the haunting and Daniel Lutz himself. While Lutz is the main focus of interviews, he also speaks with a number of investigators from the time of the original haunting, a range of believing and unbelieving journalists, and members of the Lutz family itself. Walter does not set out to prove or refute anything. Instead, he simply gathers the story from those involved at the time. Lutz's interview exposes a side not previously seen in his father, George - portraying him as a huge believer of black magic and demonic ritual. Daniel even claims that he had witnessed his father use telekinesis and reading occult literature - all before they had even moved into the house. Some of the accounts in My Amityville Horror are truly chilling. You can be forgiven for thinking that you are watching a special Amityville extended episode of such television paranormal investigation programmes as Most Haunted or Paranormal Witness.
The film develops at a slow pace, until we begin to hear the eyewitness accounts. The film creates a terrifying atmosphere by using these eyewitness testimonies and one extremely chilling photograph of a ghost supposedly caught on camera.
While the pace is slow, and there being a lack of physical evidence - we do not get to go inside the house itself - this is an informative film, which is well made and draws the audience in. To a degree, it is a psychological exposé on Lutz rather than an investigation of the house. Many questions are raised, not just on the haunting, but on Lutz himself. It is interesting to see how culture and the media have impacted on the psyche of a boy who was eleven years old at the time of these events. This is almost as interesting to watch, as it is to listen to the events that took place inside 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville.
My Amityville Horror is released on DVD in the UK October 28th
Review: My Amityville Horror
By Andreas Charalambous - 15th October 2013