Distributor: IFC Films
MPAA Classification: Not Rated
Director: Eric Walter
Starring: Daniel Lutz, Susan Bartell, Laura DiDio, Lorraine Warren, Peter Jordan
In 1977 author Jay Anson wrote a book called The Amityville Horror: A True Story and somewhere around 1978-79 I picked the book up and to this day this has been the only book to scare the shit out of me. Maybe it was my age at the time, or maybe it was the tag line of ‘A True Story’ I am not sure but I know it took me years to get over this tale.
In December 1975 the Lutz family purchased a house on 112 Ocean Ave in Amityville, NY, and 28 days later they fled the house claiming that evil spirits physically and emotionally abused them. This tale has spawned books, websites, a movie in 1979 and, of course, the inevitable remake in 2005, as well as a franchise of sequels. This topic alone sparks debate between everyone who has read it to the legitimacy of its factual content.
The format of the movie is an interview documentary with the Lutz’s son Daniel and how he has dealt – or not dealt, as the case may be – with life after the ‘haunting’, and it features shots of George and Kathy Lutz giving various interviews with both audio and video clips presented. One of the most interesting parts of the film is the reunion with Lorraine Warren about the house. For those who don’t know, the late Ed Warren and his wife Lorraine were famous (or infamous) physic investigators. Ed was a self-taught and self-proclaimed demonologist and his wife has claimed clairvoyance and being a trance medium. As a couple they have investigated thousands of cases, with Amityville having the most notoriety.
This film portrays Daniel as a frank, honest and intense personality. He himself admits he has anger issues stemming from never telling his tale. He does mention that this will help him with his anger because someone is finally listening to him as well as giving his kids an honest look at what happened, although his claims mirror exactly what his mother and stepfather have always said. Apparently his brother Christopher has given some interviews but nothing as detailed as what Daniel was capturing on film. All other family members were contacted but declined to participate. It was speculated Daniel’s intense feelings and statements about the house discouraged others from being involved. He certainly is intense about his story and, regardless of what anyone thinks, he does believe that all this happened to him.
Anyone who has read Anson’s book or researched the accounts of the house will have formed their own conclusions but this documentary is less about what happened in the house – let’s face it, most of us already know the story – but more about the struggles of one man trying to come to grips with things he believed happened to him as a child. Imagine if you went through an event like that and then your parents did the circuit of talking about it, reporters coming at you from every direction, then a ‘factual’ book comes out mentioning you by name – that pressure is enough to mess anyone up for life and the film certainly bares this out. Daniel comes off at the end of the day as a believable, intense, and passionate person not only about the Amityville events but also about life. What you see is what you get with Daniel, charming when not talking about Amityville and when he is, an intense brooding look comes over him.
The cinematography in this one is exceptionally done. The filmmakers have not done the traditional, talk on camera for hours then splice it together to make a film. Many shots seem carefully laid out with attention to lighting and composition. It’s a pleasant departure from many documentaries.
In the end this is an honest look at man coming to grips with events of his childhood, the impact they had on him and how he carries that burden through his life. It is more about the man and his struggle than what may or may not have actually happened and because of that, this is one for everyone whether you believe about what happened in the Amityville house or not.
Special Features: None.
US Release Date: 6th August 2013