The film begins with Daniel Lutz sitting at a table, dramatically lit like he's about to be interrogated (which, in a way, he is). Lutz seems visibly disturbed and agitated and says that there's a reason that he hasn't spoken publicly about the events of the so-called Amityville Horror in over 35 years – it still freaks him out. Brief background is provided on the house itself – a little over a year before the Lutzes moved in, Ronald DeFeo Jr., a troubled youth and experimental drug user, shot and killed six members of his family while they were sleeping (none of them woke up while the others were being killed, adding to the spookiness). Lutz says that his parents told them about the house's history as they were moving in and asked the kids to give an immediate response to whether or not they wanted to live there.
Little by little, more is revealed of Lutz's home life, with the movie eventually tightening its focus to center on his relationship with George Lutz, a vain, controlling man who kept his family on a tight leash. Daniel claims that George was abusive, both verbally and physically, and as the stories wear on, Daniel's stories seem less like tales of supernatural terror and more like the coping mechanism of a young boy who has been sexually assaulted by a parental figure. At some point, Daniel speculates that George brought the psychic phenomenon on the family, implying that he dabbled in Satanism and the dark arts (based largely on George's hippy dippy book collection and a half-remembered story of George levitating an object in his garage). At some point it doesn't even matter if ghosts terrorized the Lutz family, because Daniel believes it so wholeheartedly, and listening to him tell his tale becomes its own kind of truth.
Daniel's psychic scars are thick and chunky and not fully healed, but he can recite the version of events popularized in American culture in exacting detail, including the spatial geography of where certain things manifested themselves (all from spending less than a month there). He even claims that the malevolent spirits followed him outside of the house as he made his way through the world. This is the moment when the literal and metaphoric blur, hopelessly, and "My Amityville Horror" takes on a singularly unnerving power. Daniel's childhood demons are an impossible combination of supposed paranormal horror, true crime ghastliness, and childhood abuse. In the inferno that is his mind, they've become interlocked, and in the movie based on his life, they are essential and wholly riveting. [A-]
This is a reprint of our review from Doc NYC.