A Classic Horror Story
a classic horror story | roberto de feo | paolo strippoli | lucio besana | milo tissone | david bellini | matlida anna ingrid lutz | francesco russo | peppino mazzotta | meta | ritual | cult | folk horror | drama | mystery | thriller | italy | will merrick | yuliia sobol
Film: A Classic Horror Story
Director: Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli
Writer: Lucio Besana, Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli, Milo Tissone and David Bellini
Starring: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Francesco Russo and Peppino Mazzotta
This is a movie that I didn’t know much about and when it was released got quite a bit of buzz. It helps that it went on Netflix, so it had a lot of easily accessible viewers. I’m a fan of Italian horror movies of the past, so I figured I’ve give this one a viewing. Plus it is a 2021 release as well. To get into this, the synopsis is strangers traveling in southern Italy become stranded in the woods, where they must fight desperately to get out alive.
We start this movie off in a cabin. There’s a deer head mounted on the wall. A young woman is tied down. Someone comes in with a large hammer made of a tree stump. It is used to kill her from what we can tell.
The movie then shifts us to a RV driving across a landscape. There are fields on either sides of the road and a mountain in the distance. We then go into a bathroom where Elisa (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) is vomiting. She then calls her mother. Elisa is on her way home to see her and her father. She has a medical procedure coming up, but she doesn’t seem thrilled. We get the idea as well that she is pregnant.
Elisa is using a carpool application on her phone. She gets an alert that they are arriving soon. The driver and owner of the RV is Fabrizio (Francesco Russo). With him is Riccardo (Peppino Mazzotta) who is a doctor. There is a couple of Mark (Will Merrick) who is originally from the United Kingdom, but currently living in the United States with his girlfriend Sofia (Yuliia Sobol). They are on their way to a wedding. I should point out that Fabrizio is a film student in Rome, but is from this area.
They set out. Mark wants to get the party started and Fabrizio has a cooler of beers for them. Mark pushes Elisa to have a drink even though she’s against it. She does give in to peer pressure though. She does have them pull off so she can throw up soon after.
While they’re stopped, Mark gets into the driver’s seat and bullies Fabrizio into letting it happen. It doesn’t end well though. He gets tired and continues drinking. He doesn’t see a dead goat in the road and Fabrizio grabs the wheel. They crash.
The real nightmare begins when they wake up. Mark is screaming due to breaking his leg in the crash. They make an even worse discovery though. The RV is in a clearing surrounded by woods. There is a cabin. Our riders get off and try to figure out how they ended up here as nothing is making sense. There is something even scarier that happens as night descends. A siren goes off and there are masked people who follow a specific ritual involving a legend of the three knights, Osso, Mastrosso and Carcagnosso.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap as I don’t want to go into spoilers with what this movie is doing. With it being a 2021 film, I’m not sure how many people have seen this one yet. We get an interesting setup for our situation. The movie introduces our characters, establishes who our lead is and how they become stranded. There are even some little things that get introduced with a newspaper that come into play later. We even get some Meta aspects here. Fabrizio points out things that make this a classic horror story. There’s even a reference to Sam Raimi with the ‘Evil Dead cabin’.
At the core of this movie, it is a folk horror film. I didn’t know that coming in as I don’t watch trailers or read articles about movies. I don’t feel like this is a spoiler as we learn this in the first act of the movie once we get to the cabin. It is something that makes sense looking back with the synopsis. My goal was to make a pairing for the podcast with our characters get ‘lost’ in the woods. We have our cult wearing these creepy masks that are made of wood and have different variations to them. There is also this ritual to the Three Knights of Honor. I like how they incorporate this with the history and lore of Italy. I like the care that was taken there.
Since I’m not going to go into spoilers here, I did want to briefly bring up a bit more of the Meta aspects. There is a reveal at the third act. I picked up a part of this, but that doesn’t hurt it. There was more to it than I was expecting. I will admit I’m not the biggest fan as I feel like it loses steam with what it was doing. This isn’t enough to ruin it, but I don’t think it carries the impact they were going for. There looks to be four writers of this film. It might be a situation of ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ and trying to incorporate too much. Some of this could be removed to tighten up what they’re trying to do. I get the want to set yourself apart and I respect it. It just didn’t mesh as well as they wanted for me.
That should be enough for the story so I’ll take this next to the acting. Lutz is solid as our lead. We get to understand her plight and we fill in the back-story as we go. It is your typical young woman who doesn’t have much say in her life and feels bad for what her family wants her to do. I like seeing her grow as the movie goes. It just isn’t as good a transformation as her performance in Revenge. Russo works as well as Fabrizio. I like that he’s a movie buff. He makes some good references and where his character goes as the movie progresses makes sense. Mazzotta, Merrick and Sobol are all solid. I also liked Alida Baldari Calabria as La Chiara and Cristina Donadio as La Mamma. Those along with the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
I'll finish this off this review with going over the effects, cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, they looked to go practical with everything that I could see. There are some brutal scenes that made me cringe and respect the movie there. The blood we get to see also looks good. I think that the cinematography is well done. There is some interesting things done with the lighting as well. The setting helps to build the atmosphere that we need with that feel of folk horror. I also think the soundtrack does a great job in building as well.
So then in conclusion here, I think this is a solid little film. We have an interesting folk horror film here that has a different twist on it. I will admit, I’m not the biggest fan of where it ends up, but I still enjoyed it. There are some Meta aspects as well which I appreciated. The acting is good along with the effects and the cinematography. I think the soundtrack helps to build the atmosphere they needed. I don’t think this is a great movie, but I think it works well for what is needed. I’d say that this is a good movie. This is probably the highest rating it will go for me though if I’m honest.
My Rating: 8 out of 10