Review: Toronto After Dark Film Festival – My Amityville Horror
When the schedule for The Toronto After Dark Film Festival was released, this was the first film to catch my eye. Not that I particularly love any of the films (though, admittedly, I enjoy the Ryan Reynolds remake much more than I should) but I love a good documentary, and I like to think I believe in the paranormal, unexplainable, etc. Also, I love watching crazy people.
Eric Walter, the man behind My Amityville Horror, provides us with a fascinating character study. Though the film is primarily about the supposed Amityville haunting – and it sheds a great deal of light on that – consciously or not, the film also focuses on the human brain, and how incidents, paranormal or not, can have an affect. The face of the documentary is Daniel Lutz (who, um, was a creative consultant on the film so take that as you may), one of the children who the Lutz family who were at the center of the Amityville incident. The documentary sheds light on Daniel’s life during the haunting and after.
Again, the film is primarily focused on the incident, but what Walters does – and the more I think about it the more I think he did this purposely – is also focus on how fame can affect the mind. The Lutz family was infamous in the way that Honey Boo Boo or the Kardashians are right now; completely overexposed, famous for no reason and exploiting children in seek of fame without fearing the mental consequences (or ignoring that there are any). If this had all happened right now they would’ve been given a reality show on TLC, and I say that confidentially.
Daniel Lutz takes us through his emotional journey after the incident. He describes, in great detail, what his family went through, how awful it all was and how they/he dealt with the ramifications of infamy. I like to believe that I have a great Bullshit Detector. Daniel Lutz sparked my Bullshit Detector greatly but, like any great bullshiter (like myself), made me feel empathy for him. I’m not discounting Daniel’s affected mental shape as it’s very obvious Mr. Lutz is in a deep state of mental illness, but I believe a lot of his stories are fabricated for attention. Do I believe this all happened? That’s for another time (I think there were minimal paranormal activities in the house, but a lot of it came from the mental state of the Lutz and exaggerated stories). The better question is, do I believe this all had a great affect on Daniel? Very much so. Imagine going through this all, at 10 years old – true or not – then seeing your parents go on a national publicity tour, multiple movies made on the account (each greatly affecting your account of the incident), and having to deal with all of that…at the very young age of 10. I can barely deal with a paper cut and I’m 22 years old.
My Amityville Horror answers so many of your lingering questions but offers you so many more on your way out. The film is a fascinating character study of the affected mind and is a fantastic conversation piece. Also: it is so well edited and filmed that it could be mistaken for a fictional film, maybe lending to the fictional aspect of the Amityville legend…
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