Wednesday, August 1, 2012

MY AMITYVILLE HORROR (2012) review


My Amityville Horror (2012) d. Walter, Eric (USA)

An extraordinary work of investigative vision and grounded restraint, documentarian Walter casts an unflinching yet empathetic gaze upon the most sensational American haunting of the 20th century, but through a lens of humanity that elevates it above its ghost-chasing brethren.

Daniel Lutz was 10 years old during the events depicted in Jay Anson’s haunted house bestseller (and the subsequent 1979 film starring Margot Kidder and James Brolin) – the effects of that experience have trailed after, shaping a guarded, angry individual wounded not only by the trauma of his time spent on 112 Ocean Avenue, but also 35 subsequent years of doubt and skepticism directed toward him by others.

As the title indicates, this is Lutz’s story, and that personalization is key – the film is less concerned whether “authentic” malevolent supernatural forces were at work, but rather the fact that Lutz clearly believes (whether through experience or auto-suggestion) that there were. Aided immeasurably by Herman Witkam’s ominous musical score, Walter allows his subject to reveal himself layer by layer, through word and gesture, still coping with his identity as “the Amityville kid.”

An insightful and balanced portrait less preoccupied with solving a ghost story and more with the emotional aftermath of a event that has defined an individual against his will.

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