I would assume anyone into horror would know about The Amityville Horror. Most might be familiar with the remake starring Ryan Reynolds back from 2005 and others might recall the original version from 1979 starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder. In either case the story is the same as it is “based on true events”. For those unfamiliar with the story in 1974 a mass murder took place in Long Island, NY when Ronald Dafeo Jr. shot his family as they slept in their beds. One year later the Lutz family moved in and soon after began to feel their house was possessed and filled with evil; 28 days later they abandoned the house with nothing but what they were wearing.
The documentary centers on Daniel Lutz who was 10 years old when his family moved into the house. Right off the bat you don’t feel very comfortable with Daniel, whom always seems to be on edge. The reason behind the film is for Daniel to get rid of these “ghosts” that have followed and haunted him for his entire life. He doesn’t want to be known as “The Amityville Kid” and wants to be able to live a regular life with his kids. It isn’t easy for Daniel to open up and discuss the events that took place because in his mind he relives the whole experience all over again; he has to work himself up before going into details. Even when trying to help him rid these feelings/thoughts he can’t talk to a therapist because the most dramatic thing that has ever happened to her was moving to a different state to which Daniel replies “That’s it!?!”
The film looks at the events from a few different angles. The majority of it centers on Daniel’s accounts but we are also given perspectives from journalists that covered the story and parapsychologists who were asked to inspect the house. The general consensus is that something did not feel right in that home. Even reporter Marvin Scott who admitted to not feeling anything “demonic” stated that his cameraman, who was in good physical condition, began to have heart palpitations and to this day cannot explain the mysterious photo of a boy staring outside a door by the staircase who bears resemblance to one of the Dafeo children shot. Daniel and the parapsychologists believe that his step father George Lutz was the catalyst in the events that happened.
The tone of film changes when George is discussed. Before George was in the picture Daniel recalls a happier time in his life with his real father. After his parents divorced his mother married George, an ex-marine with “no parenting skills” as Daniel puts it. Daniel hated George and just talking about him gets him fired up. Daniel doesn’t stray from the fact that he’s happy George is dead and hints that he might have tried to kill him as a child. Daniel and the parapsychologists both agree that George was curious in black magic, the occult and Daniel mentions that his book collection ranged from demonic possessions to satanic rituals. Since the Lutz’s moved out there have been no signs of hauntings to which the parapsychologists reply that the house was exorcised of all its demons.
By the end of the film there is still no clear cut answer as to what happened in that house. We’re left to wonder was it a publicity stunt concocted by George to make quick cash, did Daniel’s utter disgust for George alter his perception of what really happened or was the house on 112 Ocean Avenue possessed by other forces. Whatever conclusion you come to there is one thing you cannot deny and that is that whatever did happened has truly disturbed Daniel Lutz. He’s only regret is that as a child he did not tell everyone what happened and that he waited. From his fingers being crushed skin on skin to then not showing anything, being flung up & down a staircase helplessly as his mother watched, seeing ghosts walk through the kitchen, levitating in his bedroom to being possessed by demons; these are events that will never leave Daniel’s memory.
This film isn’t going to scare you or give you answers to questions; it simply serves as a character study. We all know “the urban legend” and how Hollywood portrays the events but what happens to the people that actually experienced it. Daniel’s younger brother & sister, Chris & Missy refused to take part in the film. This is a story about a young boy and his attempt to shed a heavy weight that he has been carrying far too long.
3 out of 5