Amityville: An Origin Story review – Riveting or revolting?

Amityville: An Origin Story - Courtesy MGM+
Amityville: An Origin Story - Courtesy MGM+ /

All four parts of the docuseries Amityville: An Origin Story are now streaming on MGM+. But how is it? Worth watching or not? That’s what this An Origin Story review aims to answer.

But I’ll save you the suspense and get right to it. It’s a must-watch if you’re fascinated by the Amityville horror house story.

Even if you’re only mildly curious about it, An Origin Story is worth watching, particularly if you enjoy documentary series. This is a good one. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s exceptional.

So there’s that answer. It’s definitely riveting. The rest of this review explains why I feel that way.

An Origin Story review: Setting the record straight

There have been other Amityville documentaries, including My Amityville Horror (2012), Shock Docs: Amityville Horror House (2020), and Famously Haunted: Amityville (2021). They were all fine for what they were, which was biased in favor of presenting a certain view. Generally, that view was to reaffirm that the house deserved its haunted reputation.

Amityville An Origin Story review
Amityville, N.Y.: Exterior of the house (known as the “Amityville Horror”) where Ronald DeFeo murdered his family, taken on Nov.14, 1974. (Photo by Stan Wolfson/Newsday RM via Getty Images) /

Which, yes, the reputation is well deserved. The house is at the heart of one of the greatest ghost stories in American history.

But is it all true?

The other documentaries touch on that too, but —or with the same intensity— that Amityville: An Origin Story does. It really does pursue bringing the whole story to light. Not just the sensational haunting the Lutz family experienced that led to Jay Anson’s best-selling book The Amityville Horror, which was then turned into a blockbuster movie of the same name. It reaches further.

It’s part true crime doc in its examination of the DeFeo murders, and part paranormal doc as it explores the involvement of researchers and investigators like Hans Holzer and Ed and Lorraine Warren who studied the house.

But it’s also partly a study in sociology and psychology. Why would anyone move into such a tragic murder house like the Lutzes decided to do? Did they truly endure a haunting, or was it imagined based on their beliefs and activities at the time? Part of which included transcendental meditation and, at least on George’s part, dabbling a little in the occult. Did that make them more open to spirits from the other side, or just more susceptible to suggestions of such possibilities?

Or did greed and ego come into play? Was it really more a matter of concocting a story they felt would sell well? With the help of, and guided by, William Weber, the attorney for Ronald DeFeo, Jr., that is. He felt he could help them all —himself, DeFeo, Jr., and George and Kathy Lutz— make money from the story, as long as it was “big” enough. And as he put it, they accomplished that while sharing “many bottles of wine.”

An Origin Story review: The most haunting part

Amityville: An Origin Story gathers testimony from friends of Ronald DeFeo, Sr., and his wife, Louise, Dawn DeFeo’s friends, friends of the Lutzes, police who investigated the DeFeo murders, reporters who covered the case, and more. There’s also a lot of footage from interviews with DeFeo, Jr. during his time in prison.

After presenting all sides, it’s really easy to see how this story snowballed like it did. But the most haunting part for me was hearing how it affected the DeFeo family’s friends and the Lutz’s children, particularly Christopher Quaratino (formerly Lutz), who appears in a great deal of An Origin Story.

There are times as a writer when I feel frustrated that I can’t piece together words to better paint praise. This An Origin Story review is one of them.

It humanized the people involved, particularly the DeFeos —all of them, even Ronald Defeo, Jr.—  in a way I hadn’t seen before. It also presented compelling evidence as to why the Lutzes might have experienced something in that house while no other owners have.


Because as Hans Holzer says at the end of the docuseries:

"“The house will continue to be a timebomb. Ticking away, ticking away. One fine day, someone will move into that house who has some of the qualities of young Ronald DeFeo, Jr., —and it will start all over again.”"

But let’s hope not!

Next. Director Jack Roccobono of MGM+ Amityville: An Origin Story. dark

Have you seen Amityville: An Origin Story yet? If so, what kind of review would you give it? Were you as equally as enthralled? Leave a comment letting us know!