Toronto After Dark Film Fest: My Amityville Horror

Director: Eric Walter
Principal Cast: Daniel Lutz, Laura Didio, and Neme Alperstein

The Amityville haunting is over 35 years old and has been retold in print and in many many films; the story has become part of American folklore history and has inspired a whole genre of cinema. This documentary gives us a firsthand look from someone who experienced the events and how those few weeks have shaped a child's whole life and continues to even decades later.

Those who don’t know the story specifically would recognize many of the elements if you have seen any haunting film in the last thirty years. The Lutz family move into their dream home and almost immediately begin to experience what can only be described as a form of “paranormal activity". Before the family moved in, the home was the setting to a horrific mass murder where a young man murdered his whole family in the middle of the night and perhaps something of them has been left behind. The haunting of the Lutz family escalates quickly and within weeks the family flees the house in horror leaving all their possessions behind and never return, the home eventually falls into foreclosure. The media soon gets wind of the story and the family becomes famous as victims of what will become a world famous haunting. Daniel Lutz the oldest son was eight years old at the time and this film is the first time he has been able to share his side of the story.

Daniel sits down to share his experiences of those few weeks that occurred 35 years ago and have shaped his whole life to this point. Daniel talks to the filmmakers, to a psychologist and to a few of the people the family interacted with after the events including a parapsychologist. Daniel truly believes the events depicted in the films and books truly happened and that he was also possessed for a long time after the initial haunting. His memories even go further to the point where he believes his stepfather had telekinetic powers and may have been the gateway for the demons that attacked the family.

Ultimately, the paranormal activities are beside the point; the film really depicts a broken man who is still dealing with a trauma from his childhood. Daniel and his stepfather never got along even before the haunting and he was a victim of all forms of abuse that eventually led him to leave home at the age of 15. Also living his whole adult life as the kid from the Amityville haunting has greatly shaped how he thinks of himself as an adult and has created a very defensive personality. To the point where it might actually have been possible that he has exaggerated many of his memories to reinforce this image of himself that has been thrust upon him.

Even if you have no interest in the paranormal or have never seen any of the movies based on this event, this is still a fascinating documentary about childhood trauma and explores the nature of memory and how all of this can manifest later in life.

My Amityville Horror at Toronto After Dark Film Fest

Written by Jason Poynton

Jason works on his feet all day, so when he gets some downtime his greatest joy is to settle in at a movie theatre and see a couple movies back-to-back, or in the the case of film festival season race around the city and see four or five in a day. Of course after the movies it’s time to eat and drink and talk it out with some friends.

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