Film Review: ‘My Amityville Horror’

Daniel Lutz opens up about a real-life (purported) haunting in "My Amityville Horror," out today. CREDIT: Lost Witness Pictures, LLC
Daniel Lutz opens up about a real-life (purported) haunting in “My Amityville Horror.”
CREDIT: Lost Witness Pictures, LLC

‘My Amityville Horror’
Director: Eric Walter
Rating: NR
2 Globes

One of the more undying lines on the Lutzes — the family who claimed their house in Amityville, Long Island, in 1975 was plagued by irksome and sometimes belligerent spirits — is that they made their story up to get out of a pricey mortgage and, of course, to make some cash. The existence of no less than 10 films in the “Amityville Horror” franchise (the most recent a DTV affair from 2011), plus some bestsellers of questionable veracity, doesn’t exactly challenge that theory.

For what it’s worth (which is to say: not much), the Lutzes have mostly stuck by their story. That includes Daniel Lutz, who was 9 at the time, and whose testimony is slightly harder to write off as mere calculation. In the doc “My Amityville Horror,” Daniel, who has remained mum for 35 years, opens up, insisting to the filmmakers that the story is more or less on the level. There’s no strong reason for Daniel, now in his forties, to keep up a charade: the events have left clear, visible trauma, and he talks about levitation, possession and other impossible feats with the chilling authority of someone who has experienced something catastrophic. Even if that something is not what he says.

Of course, he also talks about the psychological trauma instilled upon him by a stepfather, George Lutz, who whisked away his mother and his two younger siblings (who declined to talk in the film) only to turn into a tyrannical patriarch. It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell there’s something else going on in Daniel’s head, although even the psychologist whose interviews with Daniel are peppered through the film can’t make much headway. He’s a temperamental, emotional, evasive man, going on the defensive at the slightest perceived slight, insisting his traumatized mien as proof enough of the tall tales he spins.

Director Eric Walter is not, evidently, the man to get to the bottom of all this, but who is? Daniel Lutz provides an ethical dilemma: his stories of evil ghosts toying and harming him and his family are, to any rational person, pure hooey, but few would willingly say that to his face. But that’s all there is to “My Amityville Horror,” which settles on the notion that we most likely will never know what really happened to Daniel, but fails to tie that to a deeper human concern. It’s not, when you get down to it, all that more enlightening than 1983’s “Amityville 3-D.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…