Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Staunton Hill

Set in 1969 for no discernible reason, a group of youngsters heading to some protests in DC break down in Virginia, and crash for the night in an apparently empty farm. There, they are butchered by a standard issue serial killer, who has an obsession with baby dolls and likes to pull out his victims guts.

We put this one on because it was set in Virginia (our home), but later I found it that it was directed by George Romero's son. I love the elder Romero, who despite often lacking the technical brilliance of a Carpenter or Argento, had a lot of solid ideas, a knack for potent satire and social commentary, and a good sense of the spooky. His son's film has all the cheap awkwardness of a Night of the Living Dead, but none of that film's virtues. Staunton Hill is a dull, flatly directed collection of slasher cliches about how all southern people are grotesque, retarded mass murderers. The gore is too brutal to be fun but not convincing enough to truly disturb. Its a joyless slog through familiar material that builds to a stunningly banal twist ending that doesn't make the previous events any more interesting or scary. My least favorite of the films I watched for YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ.

Grade: D


Joseph said...

Hey, is this turkey actually set in Staunton, VA (on I-81)? Or is it some made up place called Staunton Hill? I used to stop for Chinese food in Staunton on my way down to school and would be pleased to know there was a horror film set there, even if it is an awful one.

Dan said...

I think Staunton was supposed to be the name of the customary family of murderous hillbillies. But it's funny, we saw the title of the movie on Netflix Instant and thought it would be funny if it was set in Staunton. Then we read the description and realized it was actually set in Virginia.

I didn't bring it up in my post, but my suspicion is that the filmmakers aren't too familiar with VA and assume its part of the deep south. Now, granted I didn't live here in the late 60's, and VA certainly has its rural features. Still, the old dominion is portrayed as filled with exaggerated, obese, grotesque, racist southerners that seem more inspired by movies like DELIVERANCE than real life.

Dan said...

And after quick scan of the cast on imdb, it looks like the Virginians are mostly played by Texans, Alabamans, etc. Further evidence that the filmmakers are relying on lazy stereotypes about southerners, and lumping the whole "south" together as one entity.