Directors – Roberto De Feo & Paolo Strippoli, Screenplay – David Bellini, Lucio Besana, Roberto De Feo, Paolo Strippoli & Milo Tissone, Producers – Iginio Straffi, Maurizio Totti & Alessandro Usai, Photography – Emanuele Pasquet, Music – Massimiliano Mechelli, Visual Effects – Rainbow CGI (Supervisor – Nuccio Canino), Makeup/Prosthetics – ALC FX, Production Design – Roberto Caruso. Production Company – Colorado Film.
Matilda Lutz (Elisa), Francesco Russo (Fabrizio), Peppino Mazzotta (Riccardo), Yuliia Sobol (Sofia), William Merrick (Mark), Alida Baldari Calabria (Chiara)
Elisa joins a group of people who have agreed to share costs on a trip to Calabria, organised by the vlogger Fabrizio who is driving his mother’s RV. However, the drunken Mark decides they are driving too slow and takes the wheel, only for them to skid off the road and hit a tree. They come around to find the RV has been transported into the midst of a clearing in the forest that stretches around in all directions, leaving them with no idea which direction to get out. They take refuge in a nearby house as hooded figures appear. These are adherents of a cult created by three legendary brothers Osso, Mastrosso and Carcagnosso who are now intending to sacrifice them.
A Classic Horror Story was an Italian-made horror film. Robert De Feo had previously co-directed Ice Scream (2016) and solo directed the horror film The Nest (2019). The film marks a feature-length debut for co-director Paolo Strippolo who had previously worked in short subjects. The film was shot in Italian with some dialogue in English.
As the title suggests, A Classic Horror Story is a film that trades in familiar aspects of the horror genre. De Feo and Strippoli bring together classic tropes and plot devices. The group on a journey in a van/RV immediately suggests the initial set-up of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). There are plenty of quotes and in-jokes throughout – where the group wandering through the forest wonder if they are in a Deathdream film, while the house in the clearing is called “a Sam Raimi house,” immediately evoking comparison to The Evil Dead (1981). The scenes with Matilda Lutz prisoner at a giant table in the forest clearing holds undeniable overtones of Midsommar (2019), while the scenes with her imprisoned in a chair at a table and everyone mocking her screams again return to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
The scenes where the group wake up in the forest has an eerie sense of something like In the Tall Grass (2019) or Escape the Field (2022) – there is never any particular explanation given as to how they ended up there. When it come to the weirdly angular house and then the scenes with the hooded figures entering and conducting sacrifices of people imprisoned in wicker figures, A Classic Horror Story well and truly enters into Folk Horror territory. To this extent, it uses the local legend of three Spanish knights who are said to have founded the Mafia as its mythological backdrop.
All of this is well directed and Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli churn blood with an undeniably visceral impact. The end scenes introduce an element of Snuff Movies, although it is not entirely clear why the people of the Calabrian countryside are involved in the scheme. The final coda of the film parodies the film’s own release on Netflix with a fictional channel called Bloodflix.