Monday, 28 October 2013
The Amityville Horror (1979) and it’s 2005 remake focus on the supposedly true story of supernatural occurrences on one American family in 1975. After moving into a former murder site at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amytiville, the Lutz family suffered a series of unexplainable and terrifying events. Until their recent deaths, George and Kathy Lutz remained adamant that their claims were true. In the 35 years since the media attention focused on the family, their son Daniel, who was 10 at the time of the ordeal, has never spoken about his experience. My Amityville Horror (2013), is his side of the story.
This intriguing documentary details the struggle behind growing up as part of an internationally renowned haunting. Famed demonologist Lorraine Waren features as she visited the Amytiville house in 1975 with her late spouse, Ed. Both he and Lorraine were most recently the subject of supernatural chiller, The Conjouring (2013). After meeting Daniel Lutz as an adult, Lorraine confirms that the only house that she will never return to again is the Ocean Avenue property, a house of terrifying proportions. Yet the several families who have lived in the home since have made no reports of such activities.
Horror fans looking for sharp shocks and scares may be disappointed, as this intelligent documentary shifts the focus from traditional to psychological horror. Daniel Lutz drives the narrative. He is a complex character, unpredictable, intimidating and frightening in his idiosyncrasies. In one scene, director, Eric Walter speaks out from the third wall, only to be pushed back by an angry Lutz, who clearly owns the film and is adamant that the story is being told in his way and his way only. The tone of the film, the lighting and the dank atmosphere proves that the director clearly knows his audience and, whilst exploring an alternate perspective, still maintains the weighty aesthetic of the Amityville legacy.
Vintage news items, interviews and snippets of editorial show Daniel’s parents, George and Kathy as they sell their story and become international stars. These images juxtaposed with footage of their adult son show the detrimental effect that their celebrity had upon his development. When Daniel speaks of his stepfather George, the ringleader of the media circus, he suggests that the horror didn’t end when they left the house. Although, not revealing anything new or in explicit detail, Daniel’s attitude and demeanor, especially when speaking of his parents, reveal more than words ever could. He is a man clearly haunted by his past and its the absence of detail in his testimony that make his story so frightening.
The narrative is admittedly biased as George, who died in 2008 is obviously not present to defend himself. As a result of this the first person narrative becomes agitated and accusatory but, it is a side to a story that has never been heard and that is what makes the film so compelling. Although Daniel confirms Amytiville’s supernatural activity, with his first person account of what really happened, he really only adds further speculation to the myth. My Amytiville Horror is not the definitive re-telling of an infamous horror story, it’s a complex psychological and disturbing perspective of a familiar tale.