Sometimes, Netflix comes out with an unexpected horror film that reinvigorates my hopes for the platform in terms of horror content. For the past few days, it was the Fear Street trilogy (our review of 1, 2, 3). A while back, it was the Polish slasher, Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight. (Is it telling that I get excited about slashers?) Now, it is the film that’s being touted as “Midsommar meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” How did this net flick fare before my eyes? Let’s have a look!
WHAT IS IT?
A Classic Horror Story is a 2021 horror film directed by Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli, who previously made the horror film The Nest, which I’m keen to check out. This one is about a group of people carpooling together as they try to make sense of their situation after getting stranded in the middle of the forest. Sounds familiar? It should.
After the amazing Revenge by Coralie Fargeat and her team, it’s always nice to see Matilda Lutz in a horror movie. She, along with the cast turn in great performances in their respective roles. Lutz sort of becomes the audience anchor and she eventually carries the film.
The film also achieves what one of its influences, the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, has done: seem visceral and violent while barely showing onscreen violence. Not to say there’s no bloodshed in the film, it’s just that it accomplishes a sense of dread and engaging atmosphere as the story guides us to the punchline. I also love the visual cues where all the colors are sort of muted but the reds are deep. This is most effective during the night scenes when red lights are turned on, signifying that something bad was about to happen. Considering that this is an Italian production, this calls to mind the classics of the genre from the likes of Dario Argento’s Suspiria.
All throughout the film, our characters are put in familiar horror movie situations, which one of the characters even acknowledges. Rather than seeming like a tired march through horror tropes, the capable cast’s conviction in their performances, and the desire to know what was going on, kept me glued to see the narrative through.
The final act of the film introduces a tonal shift that caused a bit of whiplash for me after the dead serious bulk of the movie, but it all works out in the end, capping the film in a tongue-in-cheek, violent, and emotional bang. The twist lets us in on the joke and has fun with the audience without spitting in our face.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK?
While I enjoyed this flick for what it was, some might find ire in the commitment to taking you through all these horror tropes that you’ve seen before without letting you in on the secret at first. Some audiences might also find themselves rolling their eyes at the twist. If you’re averse to films that see themselves as “love letters” or meta commentary to the horror genre, this might not be for you.
Overall, I thought A Classic Horror Story was a mixed bag, but a good kind of mixed bag. It’s a treat, especially if you’re horror-savvy to be aware of the intent at times. I think if you allow yourself to have a good time, let yourself be immersed in the thrills and shocks that the film wants you to go through, while having fun with the final act, I think you could walk away enjoying yourself as I did.
WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
A Classic Horror Story is now available on Netflix.
Dustin is a horror fan and sometimes short story writer who hails from the Philippines. He likes a lot of the horror genre but usually goes for slashers and arthouse/slowburn stuff. Currently, he’s trying to make up for lost time in the horror literature world by digesting as many horror books as he can.