A CLASSIC HORROR STORY (REVIEW)
Dir. Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Opening up with a homage to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, a roadtrip of youths in a camper van ends up lost in a secluded backwoods of Italy and not soon after finding themselves stranded and alone do they realise the house they thought was inhabited, is actually the home of something more sinister. Yes, this sounds straight off the page of every redneck horror film since Tobe Hooper's 1976 classic but A CLASSIC HORROR STORY is much more than a sum of it's parts.
Starring Matilda Lutz (RINGS), Francesco Russo and Will Merrick (SKINS) star as the unlucky cargo and when they are met by a malicious cult, their numbers start to drop in very vicious fashion. Where De Feo and Strippoli's film takes inspiration is the genre asa whole and so recent as Ari Aster's MISOMMAR all come together as the creepy nature of the cult comes to a head. On the way there, there's tense family mechanics unfolding alongside the fight for survival when they find one of the cult's victims hidden in the loft and add her to the lives hiding from the masked murderers.
When the film gets violent it does so in true SAW-like territory with eye gouging and head bludgeoning mayhem. There's nothing subtle about this chiller but as it drives towards it's conclusion, there is a great motion of fear that is carried by the cast. This is a nasty horror film but one that plays to some of the more unnerving factors of the genre, suspense.
A CLASSIC HORROR STORY uses music to great effect too but as the plot twist is revealed, little moments come into focus as the set up does not tangent into the conclusion you would expect and really is unpredictable. Like the best of M. NIGHT SHAMALYAN it really does play it's cards close to it's chest but as much a good twist can really make an average film great, it can also make a great film fall flat. A CLASSIC HORROR STORY falls, very unfortunately, in the latter.
As the film reduces the survivors to just 2, it quickly becomes apparent that the cult are not who they are made to be and for good purpose. While avoiding spoilers, it's hard to express the frustration from the great horror film that this was and for it to turn. The suspense and mystique squashed in one swoop giving no suitable conclusion to the cults and madness that pursued them.
For the fist hour of A CLASSIC HORROR STORY it really could have been an all time great but where THE CABIN IN THE WOODS succeeded and this fails is it's commitment to being suspenseful horrors. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS was always going somewhere left field but here it just feels as if it was meant to be a dirty secret until it's reveal and once revealed, those hairs on end soon drop and all is much more relaxed even when there's a satisfying shotgun blast to the face.
Unfortunately, it's not a bad film, just one that is disappointing it wasn't the great horror it was leading up to be.