Toronto After Dark Review: My Amityville Horror

Daniel Lutz now and then in "My Amityville Horror"

Most people, horror fan or not, have heard about The Amityville Horror . It’s become so much a part of the public consciousness that you could probably approach just about anyone on the street and they would be able to dredge up some anecdote from the much-debated story of the Lutz family’s sojourn in the alleged hell house. But what  was it like to have actually lived through it? And what is it like to feel like 29 days from your childhood have defined the rest of your life entirely? My Amityville Horror delves into this questions by sitting down with Daniel Lutz, the oldest of the 3 children who lived through the ordeal in 1975. Daniel is now living a small town life as a UPS driver and sometimes musician. He’s also carrying a lot of demons around with him – both in the form of the haunting, which he maintains was real, and the lasting effects from abuse at the hands of George Lutz, his stepfather and family patriarch who spent his life living off the Amityville story. The film looks into Daniel’s version of the events that occurred in the house those many years ago but also the resulting trauma that Daniel just can’t seem to shake. Former journalist Laura DiDio and infamous parapsychologist Lorraine Warren, both of whom were involved in the original investigation, also make appearances, meeting with Daniel for the first time since the haunting and attempting to get past the many emotional walls that he’s built for himself.

Whether you believe Amityville was a hoax or not, there’s no denying that it’s a fascinating case and the perfectly-executed   My Amityville Horror takes a look at it from an entirely unique angle. Daniel Lutz is a forceful presence who’s entrancing to watch as he spins stories about the supernatural goings-on that he experienced, the aftermath of the notoriety that came with the case going public and especially in describing his relationship with George Lutz who he paints as pretty much evil incarnate. He doesn’t mince words or emotions and it’s clear that My Amityville Horror isn’t so much about the infamous haunting as it is a perfectly executed portrait of the ways that extreme trauma can twist and bend a person’s memories, making it impossible to distinguish truth from fiction. The film also smartly shies away from making a judgement call on whether Amityville was a true haunting or not – the topic is certainly debated but both sides are evenly matched and the viewer is left to decide for themselves. The one indisputable fact about My Amityville Horror is that it’s easily one of the most intriguing documentaries you’re likely to see this year.

My Amityville Horror Trailer


Kristal Cooper has been a film buff since the age of two when her parents began sneaking her into the drive-in every weekend. Since then, she's pursued that passion by working for the Toronto International Film Festival and the Canadian Film Centre as well as spending many a happy hour inside Toronto's wonderful theatres (she still mourns the loss of The Uptown). She is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture and feminist issues, and continues to slog away at her day job as a small cog in the giant machinery of the Toronto film community.

1 Comment

  • Reply October 25, 2012

    Trista DeVries

    I really, really liked this movie. After a day of sitting with it, I like it even more. I think it's a genuinely intriguing look at an abuse story, even though that's never explicitly stated. This poor guy's parents really did a number on him, and I'm glad the filmmaker decided to go back in and take a look.

Leave a Reply