In a desolate cabin flooded in red light, a hooded figure approaches their bound and gagged victim with a heavy wooden mallet, fit for delivering a fatal, blood-soaked blow. These are the first few frames of Netflix’s new Italian horror film, A Classic Horror Story. Of course, nothing in the trailer feels new. It looks like it’s a throwback to campy ’70s and ’80s horror films, and maybe a little giallo as well. By the end of the trailer, you’ll see mashup aspects of Evil Dead, Midsommar, and Opera. However, the trailer promises that this Classic Horror Story will “change the rules” by urging us to “take a closer look,” and that has me absolutely captivated to know what the film is hiding up its sleeve.
Alright, to break this down the way I see the trailer, imagine your favorite horror website writers (Horror Obsessive, obviously) going on a road trip and getting stuck in the woods. That’s what I imagine watching this group of friends (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Francesco Russo, Peppino Mazzotta, Will Merrick, and Yuliia Sobol) answer horror trivia whilst driving past ominous billboards before ultimately crashing their RV and trapping themselves in the woods. The RV in the road looks like Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but the woods and the people residing in them give off that Wrong Turn vibe. Maybe the idea is that this group is wise to their situation and can recognize the obvious tropes utilized in horror films. The characters’ ingenuity may help them stay alive longer in their oncoming predicament rather than becoming fodder for whatever maniacs (two-thousand or otherwise) exist in their new surroundings.
The look and shape of A Classic Horror Story‘s house evoke immediate terror and concern as the zooming in on the structure shaped like a half-star to the Disney filmgoer or a half-pentagram to us horror folks. The color on the cabin, a blood-stained roof, walls, and door, cannot be mistaken in this same light. Tension immediately rises on the most recognizable structure since The Amityville Horror.
Assuming the next scene is a space inside that structure, we see the mentioning of Osso, Mastrosso, and Carcagnosso. This legend seems to have interesting origins as a 17th-century folk song about Spanish brothers avenging the honor of their sister. It also suggests these three men were knights and part of a secret society that doled out the punishment of Inquisitionists of the time. Their legend is often told in conjunction with how the Mafia started, highlighting how these men became shipwrecked in Italy and started three separate enterprise families: the Cosa Nostra, ‘Ndrangheta, and Camorra. Images of a stylish matriarch figure at the head of a table near the end of the trailer. However, A Classic Horror Story’s trailer proposes that these men were valiant Robin Hood types who promised to save their people before asking for far too much in return. Either way, I’m all for a horror Mafia movie or even just a really messed up story with cults and rituals that hint toward H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
Upon first viewing, I thought the film might be an anthology because of the multiple languages apparent in the trailer. I was also asking myself how so many seemingly separated stories would eventually have to come together. Since finding that the story unfolds singularly, the haunting note in the child’s notebook that reads “this is not a forest” has me consumed with wanting to understand how these pieces are all going to fit together in Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli’s intriguing-looking film.
A Classic Horror Story is coming to Netflix on July 14