Yes, the title over-sells it. “A Classic Horror Story.” WE’LL be the judge of that, thank you.
But imagine Sam Raimi taking a shot at an Italian “Midsommar,” and watching a lot of Spaghetti Westerns before starting production. That’s a pretty fair description of this gimmicky, bloody torture porn tale from Roberto De Feo and Paulo Strippoli.
Five strangers hop in an RV for a ride-share jaunt across the less populated spine of Italy. Something goes wrong. They’re stranded, injured and at each other’s throats.
“How can there be no SIGNAL?” sounds the same, in Italian or dubbed into English.
As they take stock, panic is slow to set in. They’re stuck in front of a bizarrely creepy farmhouse, surrounded by woods where these strange stick-and-twig sculptures and antler masks suggest something cultish is going on, and you can’t have a “cult” without “ritual sacrifice.” And where’s the fun in that without torture?
“We crash a few feet from the road,” RV-owner Fabrizio (Francesco Russo) mutters, “and we wake up in front of the House of Sam Raimi!”
The first two acts of “A Classic Horror Story” play out in standard random torture porn strokes, strung along by the pitiless, motiveless murders that are not so much horror tropes as the building blocks of too many movies like this to count. There are five characters to begin with. Who dies (horribly) first?
But insightful viewers will pick up on things, or think that they’re picking up on things as our five strangers establish themselves in the story. Elisa (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) is pregnant and on her way home to an abortion her mother’s urged her into, Dr. Riccardo (Peppino Mazzotta) a short-tempered physician stuck in a ride share “with a bunch of idiots.”
Odessa-born Sofia (Yuliia Sobol) and Bristol ginger Mark (Will Merrick) are young and in love.
Fabrizio? He’s a classic film school horror nerd, thus his “Sam Raimi” reference.
The deaths are Medieval or Dark Ages in nature, the movie expands in scale and the story grows more clockwork weird the longer the picture progresses. Look
The first two acts aren’t necessarily made “better” by the twists and resolutions of the far more involving third act. But it’s not a spoiler to say that “Classic” comes a tad closer to that label thanks to a boffo and fun finish.
MPA Rating: TV-MA, violence, profanity, drinking and driving
Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Francesco Russo, Yuliia Sobol, Will Merrick and Peppino Mazzotta
Credits: Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli, script by Lucio Besana, Robert De Feo and Paolo Strippoli. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:35