19th Jul2021

‘A Classic Horror Story’ Review (Netflix)

by Joel Harley

Stars: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Francesco Russo, Peppino Mazzotta, Will Merrick, Yuliia Sobol, Alida Baldari Calabria, Cristina Donadio, Francesca Cavallin, Justin Korovkin | Written by Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli, Lucio Besana, Milo Tissone, David Bellini | Directed by Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli

Travelling through rural Italy, a group of mismatched strangers crash their camper van in the middle of nowhere. Waking up in the middle of the woods, the group look to an ominous old shack for assistance. Described by one character as “Sam Raimi’s house,” the cabin itself should have been warning enough; the gang are soon beset by hooded assailants wielding massive hammers. Frankly, Elisa (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) and her fellow travellers should have known better. What, did they not get Wrong Turn in Italy?

‘Wrong Turn in Italy’ is essentially the plot of Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli’s A Classic Horror Story. This is a very American kind of slasher film given a European twist. Read: extreme gore and shockingly gnarly violence. Like last year’s Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight, it’s a throwback to a very specific kind of genre picture. Not limiting itself to Texas Chain Saw Massacre rip-offs, the film also riffs on everything from The Wicker Man to Misery, rarely giving itself – or its characters – time to breathe. There’s a lot going on, but that ensures the film never gets old either – moving from one thing to the next with alarming speed.

Character development kind of gets lost in the scuffle, but the film is far more interested in tormenting them than it is in getting to know anyone. From pierced eyeballs to hobbled ankles, there are some great gore gags here. What De Feo and Strippoli lack in originality, they make up for in lurid style and atmosphere.

Thankfully, in spite of the constant homages and references, the film’s directors do manage to put their own stamp on the material. A Classic Horror Story packs a number of decent twists into the back end, giving Elisa and her fellow survivors plenty to chew on (mostly cloth gags, muffling their screams, granted). Gory backwoods horror may not fit everyone’s definition of a ‘classic’ horror story, but the film is a solid entry into the subgenre’s pantheon. Gruesome, inventive and genuinely nasty, it’s an unpredictable ride – and one of Netflix’s best horror releases to date.

A classic? Maybe not, but it does just enough right that fans will be talking about A Classic Horror Story for years to come.

**** 4/5

A Classic Horror Story is available to watch on Netflix now.

One Response to “‘A Classic Horror Story’ Review (Netflix)”

  • Prunie

    Understandably for a British reviewer, and yet sadly, Mr. Harley has completely missed the fact that the film is also rather culture-specific. It significally transcends its deliberately cliche-ish plot and presents itself to a culturally competent viewer, that is any reasonably perceptive viewer sufficiently acquainted with Italian or even Northern Mediterranean society, as tongue-in-cheek indeed, rendering its “definitive” title into a flip, in fact a deliberately broken promise for it turns out to be yes a horror story but not really a classic one. As such, the film is full of socio–culturally relevant “digs” at anything from Italian film-making and the viewing public to the nasty deterioration of the inner world of the Italian “Giovanni Doe”, to the mafia, the police and much more. So, at least in Italy, this non-classic Classic Horror Story may become a true classic after all.