OCFF 2021 – My Amityville Horror
The 5th annual Ocean City Film Festival is virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s all online, running from March 4-11. OCFF 2021 has a collection of short films and features, numbering about 80 titles total. Every night, there will be a feature that will be broadcast online. Some will be one-time screenings, meaning they can’t be streamed 24/7 like the others. They can only be seen once and at that specific time or you miss it. This film is a one-time screening. It will screen twice, but it has to be screened live, so if you’re not there for the live event, you will miss it. The filmmaker who was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland is Eric Walter. He’s from Wicomico County, Maryland, and grew up in and around the city of Salisbury. He’s now based in Los Angeles where he’s lived for the past decade. This screening event is a kind of homecoming for the Eastern Shore native.
He started working for WBOC-TV in December 2002 while he was still a teenager. He was a camera operator and did on-air graphics. He kept working for the station even after high school. His first feature was the horror comedy, The Lumberjack of All Trades (2006), which featured actors from the Community Players of Salisbury, as well as employees of WBOC as cameos. It premiered in June of that year on the campus of Salisbury University. Walter said that the film was inspired by Evil Dead (1981). It was obvious that he had an interest in the horror, thriller and mystery genre. On his 23rd birthday, he produced and shot a short film called Whistle (2008), another horror, thriller and mystery. His birthday was the end of March. By August of that year, he made the move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in filmmaking.
Before he left, Walter created a website called The Amityville Files. According to the site, it became “the largest web-based archive of Amityville-related research.” Walter’s mission was to present readers with “both the facts and the myths surrounding the Amityville case from all sides of the controversy.” For those who don’t know about the Amityville case, Amityville is a village or suburban area on Long Island, New York. In November 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. brutally murdered his parents and siblings inside the Amityville house at 112 Ocean Avenue. One year later, another family called the Lutz family moved to the same house. After 28 days, the Lutz family fled in terror, claiming a demonic haunting was in the house. Walter’s website detailed everything about the murders and the so-called haunting.
In 2009, Walter started working on this film because he had landed an interview with someone who Walter considered a “lost witness.” This is a person who could testify to what happened in that house with regard to the haunting, which some doubted as being real. That person had never testified before or even been allowed to have any kind of say in the media until now. That person was the eldest son in the Lutz family. His name is Daniel Lutz. Some of the questions posed include if the demonic haunting was real and if the children who lived there can confirm what the parents said. Also, we get why none of the children were able to be vocal about their experiences and what effect it had on the children, particularly Daniel. The film had its production and principal photography occur mainly in the winter of 2011, so this year marks the 10th anniversary of Walter shooting it.
The film contains a powerful first-hand account of what occurred to the Lutz family. It’s also a reflection on the media exposure on the family. It incorporates figures who worked in the media, namely journalist and investigative reporter, Laura DiDio. It also incorporates those who were big in the media in terms of celebrity, including the late Lorraine Warren, the parapsychologist whose life and work was the basis of the blockbuster franchise that started with The Conjuring (2013).
My Amityville Horror was released theatrically the same year as The Conjuring. Walter’s film got a limited release in 15 cities. Prior to that, the film played at various festivals throughout North America and the United Kingdom. This year’s virtual screenings will occur on March 5 and 11 but OCFF is planning an exclusive, in-person, drive-in event in Ocean City, at the inlet. The in-person event is tentatively scheduled for the end of March, which is just a few days shy of Walter’s birthday.My Amityville Horror.
Running Time: 88 minutes.
Friday, March 5 at 9 PM and Thursday, March 11, followed by Q &A.
Access the film and Q&A for Friday, March 5 here.
Access the film and Q&A for Thursday, March 11 here.
Access the film only here.