Did The Amityville Horror Really Happen?

03/15/2013 11:45 AM |

My Amityville Horror Daniel Danny Lutz Eric Walter

The Amityville Horror—first the 1975 news story, then the 1977 book, then the 1979 film, then its many sequels and remake—captivated the country, and the Long Island town became synonymous with haunted houses in the late 20th century. Skeptics, though, rapidly emerged, poking holes in the family’s story of spirits, demons, and unusual happenings until it’s now more or less agreed, at least among the commentariat, that the whole thing was a hoax. But at least one person still believes that paranormal horrors transpired at 112 Ocean Avenue, someone who was there—Daniel Lutz, the eldest “Amityville kid,” who goes public with his story in Eric Walter’s new documentary My Amityville Horror, which opens today at the IFC Center.

But Danny might believe a little too much. He doesn’t come across as a con artist—although the best con artists wouldn’t—but as someone deeply and genuinely traumatized by his childhood. He tells his story with different interlocutors: the director, a reporter, a reality-TVish psychologist, and a paranormal investigator, frankly (and with evident anger and pain) recounting the strange, increasingly absurd occurrences—like seeing an angry cartoon pig with teeth like a wolf and laser-like red eyes—he experienced, as well as his troubled relationship with his stepfather, George (played in the original film by James Brolin, later by Ryan Reynolds).

When Danny insists—insists—he witnessed George in a pre-Amityville garage moving tools telekinetically for his friends, he really starts to lose his credibility. Was George really a black magician? Did he summon an evil to that house? Was Danny possessed by a demon? Or was he an angry teenager with a shitty home life, the stepson of a serious sonofabitch? The film works best not as a ghost story but as a psychological portrait of a man in denial. Danny seems possessed most of all by a need to ascribe to real-world “evil” a fantastical origin, as though he’s unable to make sense of the world as it is.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

2 Comment

  • There’s been a lot said about the Amityville situation. Some say it was a desperate attempt on the part of the Lutz’s to get out from under. The difficulty with that view is why would they take on the extra debt of the house? Let’s toss that one. Another problem is why hasn’t the owner attempted lawsuit if it’s all fabrication? He also could sell the house he currently resides in and live in the house on Ocean Ave, if he’s not too afraid that is. No, I believe the haunting is true. There’s an eerie feeling from just looking at it.

  • As to why occupants after the Lutz’s didn’t experience anything, no mystery there, ghosts or whatever is there isn’t stupid. Who knows what the next occupants will experience? We’re talking six murders by a guy who was obviously off balance himself and we shouldn’t expect anything weird from it? What does create haunted houses then, if not that? Trouble is people talk more than they’re willing to do. Think it’s a hoax, all BS? There’s one way to find out, be the next resident. I have lived in haunted houses myself and I know from experience how selective spirits can be because I was excluded from their activity. I had to be outside to hear any footsteps.