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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
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.
Great movie. It's more about childhood trauma and human perception than
about the scary things that may or may not have happened at the
If you're looking for a good ghost story or spectacular new revelations you're going to be disappointed. My Amityville horror asks more questions than it answers and does it in a fascinating way.
Daniel Lutz is obviously scarred by everything that took place and uses the opportunity to exorcise some demons of his own. Does that make him a reliable witness? That's up to the viewer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My Amityville Horror is a very interesting work. You can tell that
deeply interested people put a lot of care into crafting this film.
What this film IS NOT: if you are are looking for scares, evidence of what truly happened or an investigation of any sort in to the events on Ocean Ave, you have come to the wrong place.
What this film IS: An incredible look at Daniel Lutz, now decades removed from the events but still dealing with them everyday. It delves into how the phenomena of Amityville and the subsequent sensation surrounding it has had a deep and ongoing impact on one man's life.
No matter your opinions on what did/didn't happen in the Amityville house, Mr. Lutz must be praised for his willingness to speak frankly about his life and experiences. It's not easy for anyone to open up old wounds, let alone do it on camera and face the publicity and scrutiny that comes with it. Mr. Lutz knows better than anyone the pressure publicity brings onto those who fall under its gaze. He does not seek it out, yet since it has hunted him his whole life he has taken a stand and has found the strength to confront it head on. No matter your stance on the paranormal, Lutz must be respected for his strength and honesty. If your a skeptic fine, but respect that for him he is opening up about severely traumatic experiences.
At times during the film, Lutz is both endearing and alienating. He is guarded, yet you can empathize with him. His tough exterior is the result of his experiences and was developed as a needed defense mechanism. The documentary shows both sides of him well.
I heard criticism that it fails as a documentary, as it does not examine the "Amityville is a hoax" side of things. To that I say, this film is not supposed to. It's not a "did it happen or not" investigation. This film is saying that regardless of what may or may not have happened, the events in the house and the fallout that followed had a tremendous impact on the lives of those involved. Those people have a right to tell their story, a story that needs to be told in order to understand the Amityville events on a deeper level.
Overall, the film is an incredible success at accomplishing its goals. Definitely seek out this movie for a viewing. 7 1/2 stars, falling slightly closer to an 8.
As most of the other reviews have already mentioned, this is not a
movie about the events that purportedly happened in the Amityville
house in 1975. Instead it's a truly engaging portrait of Daniel Lutz -
the 10 year old boy at the center of the events, and it's more about
his (potentially abusive) relationship with his stepfather and the
media scrutiny that invaded and shaped his life thereafter.
While the documentary is competently made, it's Daniel Lutz himself who is the engine behind how powerful it is. He's a character full of nervous twitches and aggressive, eloquent storytelling. He's clearly got psychological problems and he wears most of them on his sleeve, but you also get a strong sense that this poor guy has a wall of defense mechanisms built up so high that he'll probably never escape it. He jumps in a single beat from being angry and intimidating to being open and borderline in tears. It would take a mean-hearted viewer indeed not to feel some sense of sympathy for him in spite of his abrasiveness.
Director Eric Walter wisely leaves the documentary very open to interpretation. There's no narrative to guide the viewer to a moral conclusion. There's no musical soundtrack to subconsciously push emotional responses. This is just Daniel Lutz, sat in front of a camera and pressed to open up. The theme by the end seems to be an invitation to the viewer to make up their own mind about what happened in that house but with more complex possibilities to choose from than the usual "was it a real haunting or not?" angle. Was it child abuse? Was it fanatical parents leading suggestive children? Was it a structured hoax that inadvertently led to the crumbling of this poor child's life and psyche? Did something paranormal happen but get embellished in a ten year old's mind?
All in all, a very compelling and thought-provoking biographical documentary. Well worth watching.
I've noticed with the Lutz family interviews that all of them including
Daniel Lutz that they don't really explain or go into detail about the
events that took place in that house in 1975 and '76. I feel as though
in this film they really do more of a personality sketch and check on
Daniel as they try to get him to explain in some way shape or form the
events going on in the house.
This movie is dramatic, interesting and kind of gives way to how emotionally scarred this older guy is from all the press, media, and failing on George Lutz part as a parent. This movie will engross you more about the Amityville Horror and what really made these kids what they are today.
For the first time in thirty-five years, Daniel Lutz recounts his
version of the infamous Amityville haunting that terrified his family
What this film does not do is solve the mystery of the Amityville house and whether or not it was haunted. So if you are already familiar with that and hoped for proof of ghosts or a debunking, this will not change your mind one way or the other. (Although, if like me you knew very little of the true story, this will fill in a lot of gaps.)
This is not a film of the haunting, but rather the effects on the boy who lived in the house, Daniel Lutz, now around fifty years old. He believes the house was haunted and that he was possessed. Are we to believe him, or is he crazy or is his memory faulty from years of abuse from his stepfather? Different viewers will take away different things from this documentary. Some might go away saying that Lutz is sincere an therefore the haunting was real. Others will say he is completely off his rocker. This ambiguity actually shows how good of a documentary it is -- the film is not concerned with convincing you one way or the other, it just wants to show you the facts and let you decide for yourself.
Some parts are a bit slow and repetitive, but the film as a whole is short enough that this can be overlooked. There is also a great cast of characters. Lutz is front and center, but we also meet up with investigative reporters and paranormal researchers who were at the house in 1975 who are reflecting on their experiences decades later. One woman, Lorraine Warren, who raises roosters and claims to have a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on is quite interesting (and again, how you interpret this scene will depend on your views of the paranormal and supernatural).
The biggest disappointment is that Daniel Lutz's two siblings declined to be involved with the project. Although they were probably too young to have any coherent memories of the Amityville house, they could offer valuable insight into living with George Lutz, as well as give their impressions of Daniel's state of mind. A sequel documentary, perhaps?
While not the most socially or politically important documentary to come out in recent years, it is a film that should be viewed by both paranormal enthusiasts and those who have appreciated the horror genre. One looks at the "Amityville Horror" film series differently when you know -- or think you know -- the true story.
This is what happens when a guy with a severe mental illness is given
attention and a camera is shoved into his face.
He just makes up stories that are based off watching the Amityville movies, his real experience of living in the house and the Jay Anson book. He revels in the fact that he is the boy from the movie, he even knows all about the remake, he loves the attention the case has brought and this is obvious.
He will (and does) say anything that he thinks will get a response from the interviewer then it all leads to him being asked if he would take a lie detector, and he reacts as anyone who has been lying would, he flips out.
If you have 88 minutes to listen to a guy make up fantastical stories then watch this otherwise avoid and watch the Margot Kidder film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just a short review, but I did enjoy this documentary for the most
part. It's shot like most documentaries between talking heads,
interviews with Daniel Lutz and others, as well as Lutz playing many
styles of guitar in little shots to fill spaces. The man tells his
story of being a young boy at the time of the supposed hauntings his
family, the Lutz', experienced while living in Amityville after the
DeFeo murders. He has obviously been haunted in one way or another, and
depending on your views of the supernatural, you might lean more to one
side. Daniel was clearly damaged, but significantly more so by the way
his mother and his stepfather George Lutz took the chance to go
national with their stories of hauntings in the Amityville home, and no
matter how much he claims there were supernatural going ons while they
lived there it is very evident the family drama going on surrounding
everything that had supposedly happened was the most crippling dilemma
in Daniel's young life.
All in all, I give this documentary an 7 out of 10 stars. It's well shot, and interesting. The only thing which holds me back from giving any more stars to this review is subject matter itself: Daniel is a bit of a jerk, and I understand these events he perceives as having happened are certainly what constitute having a traumatic deal with life, but he agreed to do the documentary, and spends moments snarling at crew members. One particularly off-putting moment was when they visited an older lady (Lorraine Warren) who was close with Daniel, and she asked them if anyone on the crew did not believe in God because her intentions were to unveil a supposed holy relic (a piece of the cross Jesus was crucified on, I believe) to everyone present; Daniel gets a bit unruly about how everyone reacts to being questioned about this, and says if they don't say so now he'll "call them out on it later", which struck me as a bit of a tough guy move. His personality can be awfully rotten at times, and for a guy who acts like he wants to be a part of the documentary, he simultaneously tries to embody an attitude of a guy who wants to tell everyone to get lost, hiding from the media; overall, he is a confused man, or perhaps he also is trying to get his 15 minutes. Either way, objectively it's a decent to good documentary, and highly recommended for anyone interested in the Amityville hauntings, as I have been for some years now.
Read some reviews on Netflix and decided to watch the film. I'm glad I
didn't listen to the negative reviews there. Whether or not you believe
in psychic phenomena is besides the point. Something happened to
10-year-old Daniel Lutz in that house, something painful and terrifying
which lives inside him to this day. He believes it happened and that's
what is important as you watch the child within the man still
struggling to cope.
I do agree with him on this: I also believe that evil exists and that it can be drawn to certain people. After what I learned about George Lutz by watching this documentary, it is possible there are paranormal elements which Daniel experienced, along with psychological fallout from his childhood. The pain was the worst thing to witness but I found his story, as he related it, credible. There is horror and then there is horror, and this documentary explores that. After presenting information from many of the original players in the Amityville Horror occurrence, parapsychologists, reporters, etc., it allows you to draw your own conclusions and that is what a good documentary does.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I found this to be so annoying and nothing but nonsense. Daniel has the most annoying habit of being so menacing and trying so hard to make everyone look at him throughout. He sounds like he just didn't like his stepfather and could not be happier in making him look as bad as possible. Everyone in this "documentary" looks like they are just out for the attention with the exception of the last psychologist who pegged him exactly...he was a bad kid looking for attention.He makes sure throughout too show his guitar playing talent which has little or nothing to do with anything...and Lorraine Warren had nerve chastising the crew who said they didn't believe in God...that is their right just like it was his right to bring up all this past garbage to keep himself relevant...exactly how much did he get paid? Marv Scott was also on the money...they were there with an entire crew and saw nothing...would like too know who approached who in making this. Especially love how he won't take a lie detector at the end...and gets in the face of the crew member who asked him to...again with the menacing garbage...this guy is such a tool
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