A broken-down RV in the middle of a European forest. No phone service for this group of ride-sharing tourists. An isolated cabin in the woods that is filled with creepy pictures. Hungry, blood-lusting villagers are somehow connected to a paranormal-themed urban legend. But my attention is piqued when the story eventually unveils tortured prisoners and blood sacrifices. That may seem like a whole lot of plot devices (which is true), but they all seem to fit perfectly into the storyline of A Classic Horror Story.
From the outset, I was unsure about this Netflix release, which premiered not long ago. Primarily speaking Italian (as the movie was originally released in Italy), this group of actors receives an English dubbing that is dubious, at best. And then there’s all the horror tropes… many, many tropes. So, the question must be asked: Are jump scares more vicious in a subtitled film?
While the primary characters receive very brief backstories, it seems as if they’re all interchangeable (and disposable), with the exception of Elisa (played by Matilda Lutz). Even her past feels unnecessary, more like a time-filler in this 155-minute movie. What is necessary to know is that she cannot escape to find the road that ultimately leads toward freedom. Could it be that these characters are trapped in some sort of limbo?
“We crash into a tree a few feet from the road, and we wake up in front of the house of Sam Raimi.”
There’s lotsa great ominous music played throughout the film and a picturesque countryside that steals the spotlight from these characters. There’s some really great pagan costumes and some graphic violence that’s VERY visual — I had to look away at multiple times as I’m not a fan of torture porn. The script-writing is pretty good, which includes a textbook definition of properly using the film’s title to describe its storyline (unlike Gunpowder Milkshake), but let’s address all the well-used tropes.
A creepy old attic with a dark surprise? Check. All trails return to the old house in a clearing (giving off LOST vibes)? Yep. Osso, Mastrosso and Carcagnosso, a trio of brothers known as The Three Knights of Honor who came from another world, who are worshipped as the song of death? Oh, yeah! Echoes of the mafia and a final girl, to boot? Just writing out each of those elements could easily dissuade you from watching this one.
At times, it kinda felt like a haunted house movie, where you must endure some bizarre circumstances in order to defeat an ever-strong enemy. It’s isolation horror at its finest that eventually turns into a biting satire of the film industry. If you can escape reality long enough to get to the film’s conclusion, it’ll all make sense.
As a foreign language film that’s set at the intersection of real life and make believe, I enjoyed the genre in-jokes that were scattered about. I just wish the supporting characters were more of a worthwhile endeavor to endure while they were around.
If you can survive the unholy audio, A Classic Horror Story is a walk in the park. Make sure to watch this one tonight, on Friday the 13th!