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Amityville: An Origin Story [Review]

Hoax or horror is something viewers have likely already decided about The Amityville Horror, but this four-part miniseries nonetheless does a remarkable job of laying out all the pieces, history, interviews, facts, fabrications, manipulations, deals, and aftermath. It is comprehensive and often terrifying, and as someone who is infatuated with this story, this is "the" definitive series.

From what I understood, the people closest to the epicenter of the Lutz Family's 28-day ordeal, all experienced something unusual and frightening. All participants also agree that the book and subsequent movie were not the true story, fabricated with sensationalism in mind, and meant make the best of a bad situation for the family. But something unnatural did happen. Looking at the many participants, the truth is written on their faces. Every story told starts with a chilling anecdote of something they'd rather forget or not talk about, but its clearly seared into memory.

Like most docu-series, the cohesiveness of the early episodes slowly unravels as the series trudges forward. There's a lot of snippets and soundbites but not a great through line or narrative towards the end as the kitchen drawer mentality kicks in: let's throw it all in and sort it out later. The first episode was the Lutz Story, the second was the De Feo story, then came a jumble of the hoax, the book, the movies, and the paranormal. Delineating those paths more clearly could have guided the uninitiated viewers less familiar with the expansive, decade-trodding story. In the end, it was all very sad for all involved, and like a car wreck it was impossible to look away.

As a long-time enthusiast, I discovered many new pieces of information I'd never heard before, especially from the son, Christopher Lutz, that were just outright bizarre. Whether true or not remains uncertain. No one else living in the house has reported any haunting, but one thing said gave me chills. There is a belief that the house – and the spirits within - would remain dormant again until the right mix of people with the wrongs kinds of problems (like the De Feo's or The Lutz), move into that house and reopen the door to paranormal chaos.

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