My Amityville Horror (2012)

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My plans for last weekend got thrown off just a bit. I had planned on doing a review at my main site, and here, but that didn’t happen. I wasn’t real sure what I would watch for here anyway. I went through what I have in my instant watch queue for a bit and decided on My Amityville Horror. This will be a slightly different review since this isn’t a film with a plot and all of that. I don’t recall ever reviewing a documentary for here, or at my main site for that matter, so I’m exploring new ground, so to speak. To be honest, I’m not sure how to go about doing a review for this film, so I will just talk my way through.

My Amityville Horror was directed by Eric Walter. This is his first ever film, and yes it is an actual documentary. I’m sure the majority of horror fans have watched, or at least heard of, the movie The Amityville Horror which tells the story of the 28 days spent by the Lutz family in a house where a mass murder happened. The original film, and remake, are supposed to be based on a true story. My Amityville Horror is all about George and Kathleen’s oldest son Daniel Lutz who was 10 years old at the time the events took place. We end up learning a lot about Daniel because of this documentary. First, and perhaps more than anything else, we learn that Daniel holds a deep hatred for his stepfather. From what I remember, the films did make it clear that George was the kids stepfather, even though they have the same name. Daniel says that when George married his mom, George wanted to adopt the kids, or as Daniel puts it, put his name on something that he didn’t have a part in making. It doesn’t sound like George was much of a dad at all, so I get some of the hate. One would think that this hatred would cause Daniel to put what happened in the house in a worse light for George by saying none of it was true. On the contrary though. According to Daniel, it was all true and then some. He does end up saying a couple of things that I had never heard before. Now, I admit that I never read the book, but I still feel versed on the claims.

My Amityville Horror isn’t completely about Daniel, even if he is the main star of the film. Daniel also talks with psychologist Susan Bartell and Laura DiDio, an investigative reporter who befriended the Lutz family after they went public with their story. Laura eventually takes Daniel to see Lorraine Warren, who also befriended the family and did an investigation with her husband in the house. While the last two seem to support the claims of the family, and thus Daniel, Walter also makes sure to interview the other reporters who was part of the investigation with the Warren’s. They, along with a couple of other people who are interviewed as well, don’t share the same view however. Some of them believe that something paranormal happened in the house, but the story that has been told since has been greatly exaggerated. They also call into question how reliable someone would be when they are only 10 years old. This was my biggest question as well. I have nothing against Daniel, but memory is a tricky thing. We tend to forget things, sometimes rather easy, and our brain tries to fill in the gaps that we forget. Memory is also very open to suggestion, so events can be wrong as we remember them, but 100% true to us. It is easy to see that Daniel is mad that no one really believes him. He even tells Bartell that he just wants someone to believe his story.

Something else that struck me while listening to him was that he says everything is as fresh in his mind as it was all those years ago. His biggest regret about the whole thing though is that no one bothered to ask for his side of the story once everything went public. DiDio says the most likely reason for that is because he was a minor at the time. Plus, his parents and everyone else wanted to keep the kids out of the spotlight. The reason this stood out to me is because Daniel says that he wanted someone to ask his side while everything was still fresh in his mind. Since he goes on to say everything is still fresh in his mind, why the regret that no one talked to him when he was 10? This tells me he knows not everything is true. I could be wrong of course, but that is just how it struck me.

My Amityville Horror doesn’t really try to make you side with Daniel or show that he is wrong. This is a mistake that a lot of documentaries make if you ask me, forcing the person watching to take the side it is presenting. Even though this one is more about Daniel than anything else, I still thought it does a good job of not being one sided. Walter does try to present by sides and allow us to make up our own mind about it. While I like a good ghost story, I have always been more interested in the DeFeo murders. I have just been curious to see if Ronald acted alone, and if you ever seen the interview with A&E (if I remember right), it is pretty clear he did. What happened with the Lutz family is interesting, but it has always felt like a story that started with a grain of truth, and then became something a lot bigger to make it sound better.

If you are interested in the real story, and by that I mean not what the movies made it out to be, then My Amityville Horror should be an interesting watch for you. Daniel uses this documentary to push his hate of George more than anything. It is hard to say if Walter allowed that to shine through with editing, but I’m betting it is just the way Daniel is. It doesn’t seem like he is willing to let that hate go, and found this film as a way to vent that hatred. Having kids of his own now, one can only hope he doesn’t act that way towards his kids as well. Anyway, My Amityville Horror will likely only appeal to those into the story that spawned the films. I don’t think it should be avoided by the average horror fan, but I wouldn’t suggest for anyone to rush out and find it either. Despite Daniel coming off as a not very likable guy, it was still an easy film to get through. It kept my attention, but I didn’t really learn much from it.

3 out of 5 Would you live in a house knowing murders happened there?

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.

8 Comments:

  • Vale: Do you think any of their story is true?
  • ZOMBIEDAWN: In the interview with Ronnie DeFeo, he heavily implicates his sister as having a hand in the murders. Based on the information though, I don’t buy it whatsoever.
    I always want to believe in ghost stories, Vale. I do think there was a lot of creative license taken in the fim making... but I believe there is something there. It’s more interesting that way. :-)
  • Vale: I agree :) I saw another movie recently about a "true" story. I might be mixing two movies up, but I think it had something to do with a family moving into a house that was haunted and so they called a couple who were paranormal experts to investigate, and somehow a creepy old doll was tied in... do you know the name of this movie?
  • mermaidheather: Maybe some of it is true Vale. From what I understand it was George who wanted to go public with the story. I think he had ideas that maybe it would bring in some money, which it did. I don’t think he could have known how big it would get though. In the film some argue they did it for the money because they couldn’t afford their bills, but DiDio makes a good point in that they weren’t there long enough to get far behind on their bills. Unless of course they were behind before ever moving in. Either way, by the time Jay Anson got done with the book, I think it got twisted into something it wasn’t.
    Sounds like we watched the same interview ZombieDawn. The more he described his sister’s involvement, the less I believed it. The way he describes the way his sister was killed, in a fight over the gun, it just doesn’t match up with the crime scene photo of her. Plus he was changing his story so much in that interview that it was impossible to believe anything he said as true when it comes to anyone else being guilty.
  • ZOMBIEDAWN: Vale: Insidious 2. I think Mermaidheather did a review on this one. I still need to watch the original again.... I think I mixed it up with some other movie, so I was totally confused in the theater!
    Yeah, there must have been some sort of DeFeo marathon one day, MH. There was the interview with I guess a respectable journalist, followed by Ronnie DeFeo meeting a psychic who believes in his story. The sh!t got pretty thick on that episode. Zero respect. :-)
  • ZOMBIEDAWN: Cr@p, it wasn’t Insidious 2, but The Conjuring!
  • mermaidheather: I haven’t watched The Conjuring yet. I have it here, but have yet to watch it. I have a few other movies in front of it, so maybe I will get around to it soon.
  • Vale: The Conjuring! That’s it! Thanks :)
    I can give you a quick review... I thought it was good, until one scene ruined it for me. I’ll leave it at that for now, but I look forward to your review on it :)
    I recognize Insidious 2 also... what was that one about?

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