Whatever happened 37 years ago at the Lutz home in Amityville, Long Island, the extreme spook factor has spawned a cottage industry in books, movies and the online musings of amateur obsessives, both naysayers and believers. Eric Walter's absorbing documentary "My Amityville Horror" stands apart from most Amityville-alia. He explores the hoax-or-horror debate, but his chief concern is the effect of a world-famous haunting on one of the people who experienced it.
Daniel Lutz was 10 when he and his mother, stepfather, brother and sister moved into their would-be dream house, the site of a recent mass murder. Variously guarded, vulnerable, angry and defensive, he's a reluctant narrator and a fascinating subject, certain that he was possessed. (His siblings' perspective is notably missing; they declined to be interviewed.)
Speaking with the filmmaker as well as journalist Laura DiDio and paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren — both intimately familiar with the mystery — he says he's been running all his life from those winter days in 1975-76. A session with a psychologist, however stagy the setup, offers further insight.
The blurring of fact and fiction has been a part of the Amityville saga since it became public, but for Lutz there's no gray area in his memories, whose power is undiminished. His family became the focus of headlines at the same time he was enduring the trauma of divorce and remarriage. The story Lutz tells is in many ways closer to the Oedipal horror of "The Shining" than the scare-a-thon of "The Amityville Horror."