Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: My Amityville Horror

Unusual documentary should please both believers and die-hard skeptics.

March 14, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1373338-My_Amityville_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

One of history's most famous haunted houses casts a long shadow in My Amityville Horror, Eric Walter's tantalizing doc about Daniel Lutz, the eldest of the three siblings who shared that storied abode. Whether seen as an investigation of the occult, a portrait of a deeply troubled man or something in between, the canny and stylishly shot film has a broad enough appeal to justify a limited theatrical run before what should be a leggy video career.

Lutz speaks publicly for the first time here, having viewed his indirect fame as "an unfortunate gift" hovering over him for nearly four decades since the experiences that spawned the best-seller The Amityville Horror and its film adaptation. Now a UPS driver living in Queens, New York, he's undeniably haunted by something, be it ghosts or the memory of a stepfather he would have done anything to escape.

Walter's film initially looks like a credulous, creepy account of the extreme phenomena—levitating beds, a plague of flies, a garage door with a mind of its own—Lutz claims to have witnessed, and does a fine job in this mode. Given horror cinema's long-running infatuation with documentary style, it's easy to imagine fright fans embracing the real thing.

But the more we watch Lutz, who seethes at the memory of his mother's second husband George and carries a Long Island-sized chip on his shoulder when questioned about ghosts, the more we wonder how reliable his memory is. His stepfather, we're told here, had an interest in the occult long before moving to 112 Ocean Avenue (though he denied it at the time); could the supernatural be a convenient mental peg to replace memories of a different kind of domestic torment?

Walter interviews mental-health professionals who clearly think so, but he also spends time with the journalists and paranormalists who covered the Amityville story in the first place. Though skeptical to varying degrees, many recount experiences they had in the house that defy easy explanation.

Lutz is a highly engaging subject who only becomes more fascinating as the doc progresses, but Walter's most colorful supporting character is Lorraine Warren, the "demonologist" who investigated the house in 1976. Now in her 80s, the true believer keeps roosters inside her house and has a basement stuffed with supernatural artifacts. Even viewers who wouldn't believe in ghosts if one tapped them on the shoulder will be fascinated to watch Warren and Lutz sharing a reverent moment with what she swears is a splinter of the cross Jesus died on.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: My Amityville Horror

Unusual documentary should please both believers and die-hard skeptics.

March 14, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1373338-My_Amityville_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

One of history's most famous haunted houses casts a long shadow in My Amityville Horror, Eric Walter's tantalizing doc about Daniel Lutz, the eldest of the three siblings who shared that storied abode. Whether seen as an investigation of the occult, a portrait of a deeply troubled man or something in between, the canny and stylishly shot film has a broad enough appeal to justify a limited theatrical run before what should be a leggy video career.

Lutz speaks publicly for the first time here, having viewed his indirect fame as "an unfortunate gift" hovering over him for nearly four decades since the experiences that spawned the best-seller The Amityville Horror and its film adaptation. Now a UPS driver living in Queens, New York, he's undeniably haunted by something, be it ghosts or the memory of a stepfather he would have done anything to escape.

Walter's film initially looks like a credulous, creepy account of the extreme phenomena—levitating beds, a plague of flies, a garage door with a mind of its own—Lutz claims to have witnessed, and does a fine job in this mode. Given horror cinema's long-running infatuation with documentary style, it's easy to imagine fright fans embracing the real thing.

But the more we watch Lutz, who seethes at the memory of his mother's second husband George and carries a Long Island-sized chip on his shoulder when questioned about ghosts, the more we wonder how reliable his memory is. His stepfather, we're told here, had an interest in the occult long before moving to 112 Ocean Avenue (though he denied it at the time); could the supernatural be a convenient mental peg to replace memories of a different kind of domestic torment?

Walter interviews mental-health professionals who clearly think so, but he also spends time with the journalists and paranormalists who covered the Amityville story in the first place. Though skeptical to varying degrees, many recount experiences they had in the house that defy easy explanation.

Lutz is a highly engaging subject who only becomes more fascinating as the doc progresses, but Walter's most colorful supporting character is Lorraine Warren, the "demonologist" who investigated the house in 1976. Now in her 80s, the true believer keeps roosters inside her house and has a basement stuffed with supernatural artifacts. Even viewers who wouldn't believe in ghosts if one tapped them on the shoulder will be fascinated to watch Warren and Lutz sharing a reverent moment with what she swears is a splinter of the cross Jesus died on.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Time is Illmatic
Film Review: Nas: Time is Illmatic

Intended as the portrait of an artist as a young man, the music doc Time Is Illmatic is actually more interesting as a look back at the place and time that created him. More »

The Decent One
Film Review: The Decent One

A behind-the-scenes portrait of one of the Nazi regime’s most fearsome executioners. More »

The Two Faces of January
Film Review: The Two Faces of January

Good pulp yarn about three disparate Americans—an aging con man, his lovely young wife, and an impetuous tour guide—who meet their destiny among the ancient ruins of Greece. More »

Tazza 2: The Hidden Card
Film Review: Tazza 2: The Hidden Card

Wildly entertaining and kaleidoscopic, this sequel to a Korean hit is strictly aces. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Equalizer Review
Film Review: The Equalizer

Former agent is drawn out of hiding to fight a Russian gang in a reboot of the 1980s television series. More »

The Boxtrolls
Film Review: The Boxtrolls

Another amazingly meticulous and stylish stop-motion tale from the Laika studio, this time focusing on a boy adopted by a population of maligned underground trolls. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here