Say the name and most people have sort of idea what it’s all about. I certainly do. I can’t tell you how many documentaries, television specials and interviews I’ve watched about this story. I have also watched both films (none of the sequels), but never picked up the book. I wish that had been my first move. Amityville Horror: A True Story by Jay Anson threw me. I don’t know what I expected from the novel, but what I felt (even halfway through) was boredom. That wasn’t fair. I don’t blame the story or the writing, although I’ll get to the writing later. What I blame is the amount of knowledge I already had locked away in my brain. I didn’t open this book with a clean slate. I expected it to completely out shine its film counterparts and give me disturbing feelings and possible nightmares. And yet, I found myself yawning before I went to sleep at night.
Okay, so DeFeo is crazy. Whether he uses that as a defense or not, it’s not hard for me to label him with “deficiencies.” Murdering your whole family isn’t normal. But, I can’t say he wasn’t possessed by something. Who can? These are unexplainable ideas. Either way, he did what he did and that has to cause some residual energy that might not be so positive. Do I think that ghosts could have inhabited 112 Ocean Avenue? Absolutely. Like I’ve said before, ghost=energy (for me). What the Lutzes’ felt was not just negative energy. They were terrorized by EVIL. Even after a blessing by Father Mancuso, the house was not “cleared.” Still angry spirits do not make evil spirits. (so says me).
I didn’t like the fact that they stayed as long as they did in the house. Having a solid basis in reality and trying to explain occurrences that don’t match up with real world rules would be hard to get through. No wants to be told they are crazy or even believe themselves to be crazy. And stress is powerful. Maybe it was the stress of the move. Even so, the Lutzes’ also had roots in religion. Kathy had Catholic connections and George was a Methodist and both actually dabbled in meditation. I wondered as I read, if evil spirits were attacking me and my family, if that’s what I was calling them, why, OH WHY, would I stay? Even if it was only 28 days, that’s about 20 days too long. I could understand if the Lutzes’ were scientists that believed in evolution and prayed to no one, but that wasn’t the case.
I wanted to feel scared for the family. I wanted to view them as my poor neighbors that wanted my comfort and help and most of all, reassurance that they were not going crazy. I’d like to think that’s exactly how I would react to someone confiding in me about such a taboo subject. Instead, I found myself wanting to laugh at them. Some of this feeling, I fear, came from the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…..! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything with such vigor! The book read inconsistently for me. At times I felt like George and Kathy were telling me their story and at other times it was quite apparent that I was reading a reenactment or extreme dramatization, actors playing George and Kathy Lutz. And what a bad script they had. The dialogue was a miss and took me out of the story more often than not.
Sadly, I do feel that most of my issues came from knowing the story. Amityville is forever in our social lexicon. A legendary haunted house that will always be shrouded in mystery. What really happened? If this were all true, if what the Lutzes’ experienced was absolute, then I can see why their story would resonate. What a horrific tale. BUT, if it was a hoax, then aside from the brilliance of publicity, I have to say the story just seemed exaggerated and unfortunate.
As you may tell, I’m not really sure which I believe. And it doesn’t really matter what I believe. I still like the history of Amityville and if anything it’s intriguing. And really, what’s a story without a little allowance here or there? As long as it adds to the overall effect what’s the harm?