Even if you’re not a fan of the genre, you probably at least recognize the name Amityville and associate it with horror.
Published in 1977, “The Amityville Horror” by Jay Anson took the country by storm. The story of the Lutzes demonic experiences in their Long Island home has had a huge cultural impact, spawning a storm of media frenzy, paranormal investigations, legal controversy, and a series of horror movies that span from 1979 to current day and now Eric Walter has finally got Danny Lutz to tell his side of the story.
Just a brief history lesson for any who didn’t know (and let’s not forget, this is non-fiction): The house located at 112 Ocean Avenue in suburban Amityville was the site of a grisly murder spree. Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered all six members of his immediate family in one evening, while they were sleeping, shooting them face down in their beds. 13 months later, George and Kathy Lutz moved in with their three kids. After just 27 days, they moved out, claiming that they couldn’t handle the amount of demonic and ghostly presence in the house. The house became a new mecca for paranormal enthusiasts but no other owner has ever experienced the phenomena that the Lutzes did. Flash forward to now. Daniel Lutz is in his 50s and for the first time he has decided to tell his side of the story in front of the camera.
The film is mostly about Daniel Lutz and not just his experiences in the house but his connection with his family, how the house changed his life, and how it has psychologically affected him to this day. We follow him into a psychiatric session as well as his reconnection with Laura DiDio, the journalist who got the Channel 5 exclusive, and Lorraine Warren, a famous and renowned clairvoyant who investigated the house originally. Lutz is definitely an intense person, it’s something we see straight off. Not just from his disposition on how people treated him and his unusual past, but just from his facial gestures, language, and behavior. He’s not very trusting of people, especially anyone skeptical of the claims, and it’s evident that the interview is not something that he wants to do but it is something he feels he needs to do.
Eric Walter, the director of the project, does a great job at really showing a well rounded perspective of the haunting and the state of Daniel Lutz. While Lutz is the main focus of the interviews, he also talks to a number of the investigators from the time of the original outbreak, a wide range of both believing and unbelieving reporters, and members of the Lutz family. He doesn’t approach it as trying to prove or disprove anything, but just getting the full story from a group of people heavily involved in the haunting. With Daniel Lutz’s interview, a new side of George Lutz is exposed, with Daniel adamantly loathing George he also presents the idea of George Lutz being a huge believer of dark magic and demonic rituals, claiming that even before the move into Amityville he witnessed George using telekinesis and reading occult lore.
Some of the accounts are truly chilling. While enjoyable, the first half hour of the movie moves at a slow pace until the eyewitness accounts start being told. The movie does a great job at creating a terrifying atmosphere without having anything but testimonies and one frightening picture of a ghost supposedly caught on film. The interviews are intimate and intense, often breaking the fourth wall with Daniel Lutz addressing crew members or the director himself.
While it does suffer from some pacing issues and a lack of physical evidence or even a trip into the home, the movie is informative, compelling and well made. It is more of a psychological expose on Lutz than a research into the house and it raises a lot of questions, not just on the validity of the haunting, but on the background of George Lutz, the influence media and culture have on one’s psyche, and the physical and emotional horrors that occurred behind that door on 112 Ocean Ave.