The Amityville Horror is a classic of horror cinema and from the 1979 original with its 7 sequels to the remake in 2005 which spawned 2 further films the iconic house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York is recognizable to all movie-goes as the haunted home that drives any family that resides in it into fear and madness.
Few however realise that The Amityville Horror is based on a true story, the story of the Lutz family who after moving into the house of a recent mass murder where plagued for 28 days in 1975 by supernatural occurrences, paranormal manifestations and demon possession leading to them fleeing the home never to return.
The subsequent media circus that sprouted around the family and was wholly embraced by parents George and Kathy Lutz lead to the 1977 book by Jay Anson and the making of the first movie but what of their three children, what was the truth behind the hauntings, what really went on and was it all just a hoax?
These questions are what Eric Walter’s brilliant documentary My Amityville Horror tries to answer by telling the story of Daniel Lutz the oldest child who at 10 went through this nightmarish ordeal and has spent his life dealing with the aftermath.
More than 35 years later and not only has Daniel never recanted a single claim that all the events that took place where entirely real but he has never gone on the record about his experience until now making the movie all the more powerful and fascinating.
Putting together archive footage, photographs and interviews from the time the film also revisits some of the key figures including investigative reporter Laura DiDio who first broke the story, the news team that covered it and spent a night in the house straight after the final night and famed demonologist and clairvoyant Lorraine Warren, who, alongside her late-husband Ed, (both the subject of recent horror The Conjuring) visited the infamous Amityville house and where convinced it was possessed by evil.
Central in all of this though is Daniel Lutz a strange and obviously damaged man who is still deeply troubled by his childhood and scared from the unwanted fame the episode has forced onto his life with people linking him so strongly to the films they even call him the fictional name of the characters.
Taking all sides of the story into account and remaining impartial throughout My Amityville Horror is exactly that as it is more about Daniel Lutz, the boy he was and the man he has become showing not only how drastically traumatic events can shape our entire lives but the real life effects of such sensational stories on the people behind them, effects that are often overlooked when the subjects are abandoned for the next big scoop.
Seen at psychology sessions Lutz is a cauldron of conflicting emotions guarded and defensive yet desperate to relate his side of the story, aggressive and suspicious yet somehow likable, a loner and a drifter but always looking for a sense of community and belonging.
Most interesting of all is the utter conviction with which he holds on to the stories from the house, stories which include seeing spirits, being possessed by demons and the dark magic powers of his step father George Lutz a man he hated and blames for opening the door to the supernatural world on his family.
Totally enthralling from start to finish this expertly made documentary is just as unnerving and unsettling as any of the horror movies made on Amityville and in many ways even scarier as it deals with the real story which is far more crazy and insane than the fiction could ever be.
Whether you end up believing Daniel or not at the end of My Amityville Horror you will most definitely believe in the fear you feel and you will never watch any of The Amityville Horror’s the same way again.