Netflixable? Italians take a shot at “A Classic Horror Story

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

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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6 Responses to Netflixable? Italians take a shot at “A Classic Horror Story

  1. Admin says:

    Groan. There you go dropping in mention of so-called “torture porn”. There is no such thing. Torture, yes. And doubtless, torture appeals to sadists. But also to the squeamish horror fans who don’t like seeing people suffer. Snooty New York journo David Edelstein invented the term to spice up his writing and it caught on cos other critics love to deride the horror genre. But now, like lemmings, horror fans and writers use a term that’s completely illogical. Referring to horror as porn is a misnomer as there’s no direct sexual link or masturbatory thrill to be had. And it’s denigrating the horror genre by lumping it in with porn. It makes it easier for moralists to wring their hands and say horror is just as debased as porn. Academics have perpetuated the term cos it makes their often ill-informed dry prose seem racier and they can also take a moral stance and look down on the very genre that they purport to study. As horror fans, we don’t need to perpetuate this lazily ill-considered misnomer.

    • Roger Moore says:

      Gratuitous torture and mutilation of women is always “torture porn.” That’s the intent here, as they’re grabbing an American horror trope.

      • Admin says:

        You miss my point, predictably. Porn means sex. It’s erotic stimulation. No one is going to cum watching this kinda torture or mutilation just as they didn’t in 60s Poe adaptations that feature torture (no one said that was porn, times change but critics use key words to elicit a reaction). Extreme sadism and sexual gratification undoubtedly exist in hardcore porn. But not in horror flicks on Netflix. Or are you saying Netflix streams porn? Of course not. So drop the lazy and useless term “torture porn” and become a better film critic.

      • Roger Moore says:

        Watch “365 Days,” Italo Netflix softcore porn, for starters. French Netflix pix flirt with it too. Standards are different abroad. You miss my point deliberately. Sorry you don’t like the term. It’s apt and perfectly descriptive and yes, erotic and sadistic is the backhanded intent. There were Hammer films that went the same way in the ’60s. Popping off patronizingly about movies you haven’t seen is no way to take the high horse mommy put your booster seat on.

  2. chris ang says:

    Admin goes “poof” disappearing into troll ether.
    This movie was a real waste of time, and cowardly in its lack of conviction, originality, and execution. Plot holes on a grand scale, and too clever by half. I didn’t think the ending saved it in the least. Seems like there was some talent behind the camera, shame they didn’t think of something better to do than poor self-parody.

    • Roger Moore says:

      Wouldn’t disagree with the counter arguments. I found the conclusion bracing and unblinking and fun. Better than other post Argento Italian attempts at pop horror.

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