A group of strangers is traveling in the same vehicle through a dense forest at night. Everything is going fine in the journey when suddenly something appears in the middle of the road and unable to swerve away, the driver crashes the vehicle. The group is thus stranded in the middle of nowhere, unable to get help. On the top of that, the place they’re in seems to be haunted or has that creepy, eerie aura to it. Then they start getting killed one after another.
A rather clichéd plot for a horror movie, repeated multiple times over the years, right? Well, that’s what the freshly released “A Classic Horror Story” on Netflix wants to tell you. The Italian horror film, for which altogether four different writers take credit, at first feels like it’s a serious spoof of some iconic horror movies. But when you learn these allusions to classic horror movies are deliberate, you know “A Classic Horror Story” is not your run-of-the-mill horror flick.
Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli direct this modern production that is intentionally styled after many classic horror movies. Five strangers—Elisa (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz), Fabrizio (Francesco Russo), Riccardo (Peppino Mazzotta), Mark (Will Merrick), and Sofia (Yuliia Sobol)—find themselves in a lurch when the RV they are taking crashes in the middle of the road somewhere in southern Italy. Everyone survives, but they find themselves on a clearing in a dense forest which seems to be inhabited by a cult that worships something sinister and performs human sacrifices.
Narrating the movie’s story without giving out spoilers is almost impossible. The film starts as a typical horror show but by the time you reach the second half, it tells you it is definitely not so. It then twists and turns so much that you get bewildered by the quick changes. It is a strange amalgamation of some iconic horror movies, and infused with some modern motifs to create a stylistically driven horror film that is a visual treat.
The film’s technical aspects, although the movie is seemingly under-budget compared to most Hollywood productions, are well-covered and become its highlights. More than the storytelling itself. The overall schematics, including the terrific cinematography, lighting, color grading, and background music, make this an enjoyable watch because of the visual and aural vibes it gives.
But the efforts put in by the actors as well as the production crew are somewhat discredited by the four writers of the film. Maybe a classic case of ‘too many cooks.’ Trying to cut too many corners in the film gives it a ‘wrong turn’, from where it never comes back. The direction also cannot save the film from going haywire.
To make matters worse, there are very few scary moments in the whole film. The makers have taken inspiration from classic horror movies but seem to have forgotten to emulate their shock factors. Even the ‘slasher film’ type of sequences lack the brutality and without much ingenuity, the film starts to bore by the time it reaches the second half. The makers keep the film short at 1hr 35mins and this is probably one of the wisest decisions they’ve made in making this film.
Who should watch it?
For those less acquainted with the niche world of hard-core horror films and those who prefer far less blood and gore than typical slasher flicks, A Classic Horror Story will not disappoint. It has all the elements to make for an interesting horror film, just not enough for someone whose toddler watches scary scenes from “Annabelle” and “The Nun” more than nursery rhymes.
Rating: 2.5 stars
Genre: Horror, thriller
Director: Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli
Actors: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Francesco Russo, Peppino Mazzotta, Yuliia Sobol
Run time: 1hr 35mins