The Movie Waffler Documentary Review - My Amityville Horror | The Movie Waffler

Documentary Review - My Amityville Horror

Investigation of the events that inspired the iconic horror movie.

Directed by: Eric Walter
Featuring: Daniel Lutz, Susan Bartell, Laura DiDio

Amityville, to a certain type of audience, brings up thoughts less of a coastal town and more of hauntings and malign entities. The place has become synonymous with the fact or fiction account which spawned the movie, the remake and countless sequels, all of varying claims to veracity. In Eric Walter’s documentary about the house and the supposed haunting of the Lutz family we get a version of events seen through the eyes of the eldest son Daniel Lutz.
If you come into this film expecting a 'Most Haunted', taken at face value account loaded with hyperbole and mysticism then you are in for a disappointment. This is a sober minded, if not entirely forensic, account of the events. If it spends a little too long with mystics and parapsychologists, it does at least allow them to explain events clearly and concisely without overt editorial interference. If anything, this documentary lacks the vim and vigour that made films such as 'Capturing the Freidman's and 'The Impostor' so cinematic and compelling. The tale told is just a little too familiar, the staging just a little dull. This is a story well suited to the home entertainment medium.
The films focus and trump card is Daniel Lutz, a compelling twitchy presence who at once seems unwilling and yet all too eager to recall and embellish on the 28 days they spent in the house. A touch of unreliability is to be expected in someone who was eight years old when the events occurred but no matter what your stance on the story the psychological scars are manifest on his twitching countenance. It may not be the result of supernatural abuse but post traumatic stress is clearly evident during the time we spend with him.
In the skeptics corner we have investigative reporter Laura DiDio and the channel 5 news team (no Ron Burgundy lookalikes unfortunately) who spent time in the house after the events and reported nothing unusual in the night they stayed there. Psychologist Susan Bartell is more sympathetic to Daniel Lutz as he undergoes therapy with her.
It is in the believers camp where most of the fun is. Particularly the account of events by Lorraine Warren (the focus of the recent movie 'The Conjuring', about herself and now deceased husband Ed), a woman so eccentric that the fact she keeps two roosters in her kitchen is the least odd thing about her. Lutz’s veneer of twitchy cynicism is stripped away and a religious fervour grips him when confronted with a piece of wood that is purported to come from the cross Christ was crucified on.
I am a lover of horror and supernatural but remain resolutely a non believer, so watching charlatans like the Warrens and a procession of Parapsychologists talking with absolute clarity about these subjects leaves me cold. At best they are misguided, at worse they are cashing in on the emotionally fragile, bereaved and weak.
Walters' film is to be commended for its impartiality and non intrusive approach. He does though seem to strangely frame Daniel’s account in shadows with a top light, giving his account the visual look of a Mafioso recounting his crimes rather than that of an innocent victim.
If by the end Daniel Lutz' account seems to stray into areas of telekinesis that snap any sense of reality his account may have had, you never at any point lose your sympathy for him. No matter what happened to him, be it paranormal or the depressingly normal reality of an abusive Step Father and negligent parenting, at the film's end you hope he gets the closure and treatment he needs.

Jason Abbey