After years of based-on-a-truish-story movie sequels, the most convincing explanation for the purported hauntings in Amityville, New York, might be simply the power of suggestion. That's certainly the main takeaway from My Amityville Horror, Eric Walter's documentary portrait of Daniel Lutz, who in 1976, at the age of 10, supposedly experienced supernatural terror with his family at the notorious Long Island residence of the title. Now bald, smoking, and exuding still-potent fury, the adult Daniel lays out his possession-and-ghosts case to the camera, therapists, and so-called "experts," with his recollections complemented by archival TV clips and radio interviews, as well as new chats with parapsychologists and journalists who played parts in the tale. Director Walter allows Danny to share his version of events but refuses to take him simply at his word, shrewdly allowing room for considerable skepticism--even from Laura DiDio, a sympathetic reporter who originally covered the events. That wariness is predicated on the persuasive idea that Danny, a troubled delinquent who resented and rebelled against his ex-military stepfather, George, may have been a victim of a corrosive stew of imaginative insinuations about otherworldly phenomena from his parents, the media, and overeager true believers. Whether it was all a haunting or a hoax is left unanswered, but the film leaves little doubt that Amityville's greatest source of evil was, fundamentally, parental in nature.

Details

My Amityville Horror
Directed by Eric Walter
IFC Midnight
Opens March 15, IFC Center
Available on demand

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