Typically, when horror films get deeply self-referential, it’s in service of delivering a few laughs to the horror geeks in the crowd. The meta-horror comedy has essentially become its own sub-genre at this point, as seen in movies such as The Cabin in the Woods and The Final Girls. “Legitimate” horror, on the other hand, often occurs in a universe where characters are blind to the idea of horror movie tropes, as knowledge of those tropes would theoretically lessen the genuine fright involved.
Or that’s the theory, anyway, but A Classic Horror Story doesn’t seem to care. The upcoming Netflix horror film is populated by characters who know their horror movies, but that doesn’t stop them from ending up in what looks like a deadly and supernatural situation. Moreover, the first trailer below seems to imply that the scares here are being taken completely seriously, which is a pretty novel approach to meta horror. As the synopsis reads:
Five carpoolers travel in a motorhome to reach a common destination. Night falls, and to avoid a dead animal carcass, they crash into a tree. When they come to their senses, they find themselves in the middle of nowhere. The road they were traveling on has disappeared and there is only a dense, impenetrable forest and a wooden house in the middle of a clearing, which they discover is the home of a spine-chilling cult.
The references and allusions to other films and horror sub-genres in the trailer are copious in quantity and pervasive in their scope. The cabin setting is a clear allusion to the likes of Evil Dead or The Cabin in the Woods, while the “folk horror” stylings and cult suggest the influence of The Wicker Man, Apostle and Midsommar. The Italian influence, however, also evokes some of the more gruesome, torturous scenes of Dario Argento, and one of the torture devices looks quite reminiscent of Argento’s own Opera from 1987.
This film just sort of seemed to appear out of nowhere overnight, so we can’t help but be curious. A Classic Horror Story is scheduled to land on Netflix on July 14, 2021, so we won’t have to wait long. Check out the first trailer below.