New to Netflix this week is the Italian horror movie, A Classic Horror Story. The film – directed by Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli – is available on the streaming service from today, and stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Will Merrick, Francesco Russo, Yuliia Sobol and Peppino Mazzotta.
A Classic Horror Story tells the tale of a group of strangers who find themselves caught up in a sinister situation in a forest. The film includes plenty of blood and gore, is not suited for the squeamish, but is most certainly suitable for long-time horror fans.
In the movie, the group are travelling across a rural part of Italy, when an incident takes place during the night, and their RV crashes into a tree. They awake the next morning to discover that almost everyone survived the accident without injury, but their vehicle is not where it should be.
Instead of being partially wrapped around a tree trunk along a highway, the RV is now parked in the middle of a forest, next to a seemingly abandoned cabin. Confused about the situation, and concerned for their safety, the group set out to explore their surroundings and search for help. This leads them to discover some troubling sights amongst the trees, as well as the suggestion they are far from alone. And as night begins to set in, the true horror of their predicament begins to reveal itself.
As its name suggests, A Classic Horror Story is very much a picture steeped in horror lore. The film borrows ideas and themes from all over the genre, and includes nods to movies such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Hostel (2005), The Purge (2013), and Midsommar (2019).
This is a film which has been put together by a creative team who clearly adore every creepy little facet of horror. In the same way that Cabin in the Woods (2011) managed to blend together various different ideas to form a story, A Classic Horror Story does something similar, and the end result is very engaging and not quite what it first appears to be.
Is it a movie packed with clichés? Yes – but they are all intentional.
This whole film is about using recognisable movie tropes to craft a story. The film thrives on familiarity and an understanding of the horror genre, and anyone who drops out early, thinking they have seen it all before, is missing the point.
But then, I don’t know why anyone would drop out early. This film is not only intriguing, it looks bloomin’ fantastic too!
From a visual standpoint, this is a stunning movie to look at. Some of the cinematography is marvellous, and there are various shots which help to express the feelings of foreboding, isolation, and intimidation which are embedded into this tale.
A significant chunk of this movie is about a group of people who are lost in the middle of nowhere, and who are in dire need of help, and this is conveyed in various shots throughout the film. Characters are regularly positioned against a backdrop that practically engulfs them, and makes them appear almost insignificant to the world around them.
It is neat little touches such as these that demonstrate that a great deal of attention has gone into bringing this story to the screen. Everything here has been expertly developed, carefully considered, and then thoroughly executed.
My only criticism with A Classic Horror Story is that I found it a touch too short. Although it tells its story in a decent amount of time, and provides a satisfactory conclusion, the mid-section could have benefited from another ten minutes, just to flesh things out a little.
Those who regularly read my reviews will know that I often bring up the length of a film in my discussions, and almost always suggest that some editing should have taken place to reduce the running time of the respective picture. On this occasion, I have the opposite view, as I think A Classic Horror Story should have been given a bit more breathing room, just before heading into the climax.
A couple of characters are killed off a little too quickly, while a truly disturbing dinner sequence would have been even more excruciating to watch with perhaps a minute or two added. This scene in particular is one of the movie’s highlights, and it takes place before a key moment in the story, so I would have loved to see it extended.
But that said, I am fine with what’s presented. Ultimately, the directors get the job done, and have left me in a position where I wanted more – which just goes to show how much I enjoyed this film – and I look forward to seeing what they do next.
A Classic Horror Story does exactly what it says in the title and does it well. The film brings together a good cast, some gruesome moments, and an interesting final act which allows the movie to shift gears and offer a new perspective to what has come before.
If you’re a horror fan, I recommend you give it a watch. I also recommend you watch the movie in Italian (with English subtitles), rather than the dubbed English version that Netflix automatically defaults to.