The Ritual that Took Place at the Cabin In the Woods During Midsommar

Main Cast: Matilda Lutz

Directors: Roberto DeFeo and Paolo Strippoli

As I perused Netflix this morning, trying to find a movie to watch, I saw the thumbnail for a movie called A CLASSIC HORROR STORY and I remembered seeing on Twitter the other day someone saying it was really good, so I stopped on it and took a peek.  Netflix said it was Cabin in the Woods meets Midsommar, and that was pretty much all I needed.

This was going to be today’s movie.

After some finagling—turning on the English dubbing so I didn’t have to read this Italian movie—I got started and was immediately happy I picked this one when I saw Matilda Lutz was here.  After her killer (pun intended) performance in 2017’s REVENGE, I’m definitely down for another horror movie with her as the star.

A CLASSIC HORROR STORY finds Matilda’s Elisa character about to hitch a ride in a rideshare to her parents’ town where she plans to have an abortion.  Along the way, the camper they’re traveling in runs off the road and into a tree.  But when Elisa wakes up in the morning to see Fabrizio (the owner of the camper they’re riding in, played by Francesco Russo), Riccardo (disgraced doctor, played by Peppino Mazzotta) and Sophia (Mark’s girlfriend, played by Yuliia Sobol) helping Mark (played by William Merrick–Mark was driving drunk and as a result has a broken leg), she discovers not only that they’re stranded, but also that the road they were on is gone.

The camper now sits in a clearing in the middle of the woods, next to a mysterious cabin.  The four go inside and discover a series of strange paintings that tell the story of Osso, Mastrosso, and Carcagnosso, a trio of deities who provide abundance and riches in exchange for human sacrifice.

Upstairs, they discover Chiara, a young girl who’s been trapped in the cabin and is missing her tongue.  Before they can escape with the girl, a siren goes off outside and the four see masked figures dragging Mark from the camper, bringing him inside, and killing him after breaking his legs with a large wooden mallet.

The next morning, the gang escapes into the woods, hoping to find the road they were on.  Instead, they find an automotive graveyard where the cult has been dumping the cars of their previous victims.  And it gets worse, because even though Fabrizio says they’ve been heading south this whole time, they still somehow wind up back at the cabin.  And their camper is gone.

A CLASSIC HORROR STORY was an incredibly fun watch, and definitely had that MIDSOMMAR vibe Netflix promised, but with lots of actual horror and gore to boot.

You’d think after REVENGE, people would just stop messing with Matilda Lutz because she’s clearly not kidding, and she will hurt you if you put her in danger.  I don’t know where she finds those wells of anguish and terror mixed with such rage, but wherever she’s pulling them from, keep it up, because she owns this movie.

The rest of the cast is here, but Lutz outshines them, making what are probably really decent performances just a little less stellar, but the story and direction, the cinematography (this is a beautifully shot movie with a really strange and unsettling and perfectly creepy score) and production design work to elevate everything and everyone.

Written and directed by Roberto DeFeo and Paolo Strippoli (with writing credits from Lucio Besana, Milo Tissone and David Bellini as well), A CLASSIC HORROR STORY is not the movie you expect it to be.  There are a few twists I unfortunately predicted WAY early on and I was disappointed to see I was right (but I’ve been writing horror for 30 years, so I sort of expect that now), but in the end, the story DeFeo and Strippoli are ACTUALLY telling is not the one we’re presented with throughout much of the movie, and those “predictable” revelations work within the confines of this bigger picture.  Is that vague enough for you?

I mean, if you’re paying attention, you’re probably going to guess them anyway, but the way those secrets are revealed is just so damned entertaining, I can’t even be mad I saw them coming.

The end of the movie sort of came out of nowhere, promising this big flashy climax that never materialized, and bringing to mind other movies with similarly sudden endings, and there’s a goofy mid-credit scene that I’m sure made sense in the initial stages, but still I just enjoyed everything that came before it so much, I can’t help but overlook them.

The homages this movie pays are numerous, but it never shies away or tries to cover them up; the influences of this movie are worn proudly on its sleeve for everyone to see.

For me, this is a movie I’m gonna be thinking about for the next few days and coming back to over and over.  A CLASSIC HORROR STORY is streaming on Netflix, but if I ever see it on DVD or Blu-Ray, I’ll definitely be buying a physical copy.  That’s how good it is. 4 1/2 stars.

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