My Amityville Horror

Posted: August 14, 2013 by Jenny Dreadful in Film, Reviews
jennydWatched Eric Walter’s documentary My Amityville Horror last night (via Netflix Instant). I was definitely interested in the subject matter. I’m skeptical, but have always been just fascinated and terrified by tales of the supernatural (many run in my family). Whether I believe or not, ghost stories are the ones that really get me, as far as fiction goes. They give me the dread I’m looking for.

Before I go on, I should say that familiarity with the material–whether it’s the original book that spilled the exaggerated details of the whole affair in the 70s, true-life analysis of the case and the Warrens, the Lutz family’s many television appearances, or the film adaptations–is a pre-requisite. And hey… whether you think the whole thing is bullshit or not, that first movie is a classic, so you might as well.

myamityvillehorrorMy Amityville Horror is a deep examination of the character and experiences of Daniel/Danny Lutz; the eldest of the 3 children living in the house when whatever happened… happened. Anyway, I went in assuming bullshit but tried to keep an open mind. The documentary introduces you to grown-up Danny, a troubled and gruff man who plays the guitar and agonizes over his childhood traumas to this day. We see him answer questions from therapists, the filmmakers and the reporters he knew during the whole affair. We follow him to a reunion with Lorraine Warren at her spooky museum of a house. We explore the facts from the perspective of the reporters responsible for breaking the story and creating the media sensation that lasts to this day. We hear from psychologists theorizing on Daniel’s state of mind. Although little new is discovered during the documentary, they do a decent job of remaining impartial, neither representing his tales as true nor outright painting him as a fraud.

The biggest problem, honestly, is Daniel himself. He is such a douchebag. (That’s a technical term.) He behaves as if the filmmakers are forcing him to talk, but clearly agreed to make a documentary. He is rude, confrontational, flies off the handle any time his story is questioned (the final scene, involving an inquiry about a lie detector test is particularly uncomfortable). He’s incredibly unlikable and I struggled with not turning the thing off and doing something else just because he was so irritating. However, I must say that his manner and behavior IS in line with the men I’ve known who have faced violent, traumatic pasts (I say “men” because of the effect expected gender roles have on all of us, and admit to generalizing). So I have to step back and accept that. Whether it was supernatural or physical violence or something else, he is obviously recovering from some kind of trauma and I’m not sure it matters if he’s telling the truth as it really happened, suffering from delusions inspired by fictional accounts, or lying his ass off. It’s an interesting character study either way.

So yeah. Interesting look at the events, but nothing new aside from the close examination of Danny Lutz. A few spooky moments, some bullshit, and interviews that can be a chore to get through. Warning: Your eyes might roll too hard and burrow backward into your brain. Please use caution.

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