If you’d gone through my book bag any time during my seventh or eighth grade year, you probably would have found a very worn, very well-loved copy of Jay Anson’s “The Amityville Horror”. Though, for years, I’d fed myself a steady diet of strange-but-true books, this was my first taste of something that seemed immediate, tangible and truly frightening. While I’d love to say that I discovered girls or something healthy like that to divert my attentions, I instead discovered “StarBlazers” and Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”. Science swept away spirits and spooks, at least for me. For others, the horror continued.
For those not familiar with the story, in Fall of 1974, Ronald Defeo murdered his family while they slept. Circumstances – which I won’t recount here – were curious and, to this day, is still debated. Not long after, the house was sold to the George and Kathy Lutz who moved into the murder house on Ocean Avenue with their three kids. They fled the house twenty-eight days later claiming they were terrorized by supernatural and demonic activity.
The first documentary by writer/director Eric Walter, “My Amityville Horror” takes a look at the life of Daniel Lutz. The oldest son of the Lutzes, he was only ten when he lived at the Amityville house and the events very obviously have colored his development. Walter presents us with Lutz now, a forty-seven year old man with survivor eyes as he discusses his life now and life after leaving Amityville. He also assembles together a collection of news people, doctors and psychics to look back on the experience. Admittedly, it would be very easy to present Lutz’ experiences heavily slanted one way – total belief – or the other – absolute skepticism. Walter doesn’t so much take the middle path between them as he dives into either side and allows the audience to make it’s own decision. But regardless of which way he travels, Lutz is our guide. His pained, earnest deliver truly drives this movie. Without him, the movie would simply be another rehashing of old facts.
“My Amityville Horror” shines a new light on one of the most famous hauntings and give you a fresh look through the haunted eyes of a survivor.