A Classic Horror Story (2021)

A Classic Horror Story
Director: Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli
Writer: Lucio Besana, Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli, Milo Tissone, David Bellini
Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Francesco Russo, Peppino Mazzotta, Will Merrick, Yuliia Sobol, Alida Baldari Calabria, Cristina Donadio
Seen on: 22.8.2021

Plot:
Elisa (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) is trying to make her way to her family in the south of Italy. To get there, she has found a rideshare – a camper van driven by Fabricio (Francesco Russo), a travel blogger. Along with them are grumpy doctor Riccardo (Peppino Mazzotta) and young couple Sofia (Yuliia Sobol) and Mark (Will Merrick). They set off, but soon things take a very bad turn. They find themselves stranded in front of a hunting cabin – and the hunters soon follow.

A Classic Horror Story thinks that it is much smarter than it actually is, and adopts such a sanctimonious tone, I quickly grew to dislike it – despite some really strong elements.

The film poster showing a woman standing in a doorway. She is in shadow, and some kind of horns are growing from her head. The landscape behind her is drenched in red light.

[SPOILERS]

When the film started, I thought they were going in a Cabin in the Woods direction with the plot. While that may have not been the most original way to go, there is enough to the idea that they could have made something novel with it. But maybe the filmmakers also saw that probably way the plot could develop and decided to go in another direction just for the sake of going in another direction. At least that’s what it felt like to me.

What we got leans more towards Funny Games instead, seemingly trying to bake a criticism of horror as a genre into a horror film. Only that in Funny Games, the criticism is much more precise (whether you agree with it or not, the film knows the point its making). And more authentic because Haneke does not revel in the horror elements. A Classic Horror Story does. It tries to have its cake and eat it, too, tries to be an entertaining horror film while at the same time chastising its viewers for being entertained by it. And that combination doesn’t work. It can’t work.

Sofia (Yuliia Sobol), Elisa (Matilda Lutz), Riccardo (Peppino Mazzotta) and Fabricio (Francesco Russo) looking with horrified expressions at something.

It’s a pity. If the film hadn’t tried to outwit the audience so much, it really could have had something. The set-up was really strong. The hunting lodge, the masks, the mythology the film offers, as well as the cinematography and sound – I had really high hopes for the film at first. Especially as intrigued as I was by the obviously meta movie title.

But I was disappointed instead by the resolution that makes the set-up fall apart, and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny itself.

Chiara (Alida Baldari Calabria) huddling in a coccoon made of twigs.

Summarizing: maybe only watch the first half. Or don’t watch it at all.

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