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Saturday, July 17, 2021

Review: A Classic Horror Story

Director: Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli

Screenplay: Lucio Besana, Roberto De Feo, and Paolo Strippoli

Year: 2021

A group of five people travels to southern Italy when they accidentally crash their vehicle into a tree. As they seek help to get out of there, they realize that they are not in a friendly place. Now they must find a way to escape from the area while members of a cult stalk them. 

"A Classic Horror Story" is one of those films that takes its title very seriously. From early on in the film, the influence that classic horror films have on it is evident through visual references and direct mentions of some of these films. Some of the films he seems to draw references from are “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with its group of protagonists and road trip vehicle, “Midsommar” with its cinematography style and surroundings, and “Wrong Turn”, among others.

But does “A Classic Horror Story” live up to the level of these films and its name? The quick answer is that it takes many references, but they are not necessarily used well, so it fails to reach the level that it proposes. Its main problem is trying to deliver such a fantastic twist that it ends up not working.

The first half of this movie unfolds by making you think it's going to take one path, but it begins to take another one around the middle. This first half is promising and hooks the viewer in its mystery and constant references to other horror films (much more effective if you are a fan of the genre). But just as it raises expectations, it deflates once it passes the first half to a disappointing outcome.

The film by Roberto De Feo (“The Nest”) and Paolo Strippoli stands out in the audiovisual aspect. The stage shots, which seem to have taken inspiration from "Midsommar" and the use of lights are excellent, and the interesting soundtrack offers another dimension by being diametrically opposed to what is presented on screen, but it works very well. The movie does feature quite a bit of violence and gore, but many of the rawest moments take place off-screen, probably limited by budget. Of course, they take my respect for having the courage to present a scene where a minor is shot without trying to cover anything.

"A Classic Horror Story" may sound like a horror fan's fantasy because of its name and its multiple references to movies in the genre, but it only lives up to these expectations for the first half. Already in the second half, it begins to deflate faster and faster until it crashes into a disappointing ending.

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