THE PLOT THUS FAR
It’s the fall of 1969 and winds of a change are blowing across America. But on a remote family farm in the hills of Virginia, a storm of evil has been brewing for years. Now for a group of young people hitchhiking to a rally in D.C., a detour to the nightmare homestead of Staunton’s will rip apart their young lives forever. A grisly secret is waiting. The raw terror is growing. And the clan’s brutal harvest is about to begin. Kathy Lampkin (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Kiko Ellsworth (Dexter), Cooper Huckabee (The Funhouse), Cristen Coppen and David Rountree star in this extreme shocker from Pittsburgh filmmaker Cameron Robero – son of legendary Night of the Living Dead director Geroge A. Romero – that unleashes a new generation of graphic horror.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Staunton Hill is the second film from director Cameron Romero, son of legendary director George Romero. Following his fathers footsteps, Romero crafts a visceral, gory shocker that recalls the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night of the Living Dead. Set in the late 60s, the film follows five friends as they hitchhike their way across the US to attend a political rally in Washington DC. Abandoned at a gas station, the group Cole (Rountree), Jordan (Coppen), Boone (Ellsworth), Raina (Carlo) and Trish (Rhodes) manage to get a ride from a benevolent stranger with a temperamental pick-up truck that breaks down in the middle of nowhere. With night closing in and a storm on the way, the group take refuge in a barn at a seemingly deserted farm.When the group awake the next morning they find the farms owners: Grandma Staunton (Weston), Louise Staunton (Lamkin) and her mentally challenged son Buddy (Hendricks). Following an altercation between Buddy and Cole, the Stauntons apologise and invite their guests to stay for breakfast. But behind the friendly facade of this eccentric family lies a terrible secret, a secret that will be revealed to the group in the most unpleasant of ways
The film follows a tried and tested plot: a group of travellers end up at the home of some creepy backwoods folk that are not all they seem, but the plot is the only typical thing about the film. Romero follows a similar formula to that of his fathers film, Night of the Living Dead a group trapped in a remote farmhouse location under attack from an unknown force, only instead of zombies, Staunton Hill features backwood hicks more typically found in a Tobe Hooper film. Like Hoopers inaugural film, this film goes for shocks but whereas TCMs violence was more suggestive, Romero packs his film with some of the grisliest gore Ive seen for some time: with severed limbs, scalpings, flayings, beheadings, eviscerations and buckets of blood pouring all over the place. Its almost fetishistic, really pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in horror, especially when the majority of the more graphic violence is aimed at women.
But whereas a lot of films may use excessive gore to replace plot holes and bad storytelling, Staunton Hill bucks that trend. With a script that manages to introduce the characters and move the story along without wasting any of the films short running time, the movie is tightly directed and perfectly paced. Director Romero successfully builds tension throughout the film by the use of tight framing and a handheld directorial style that pulls you into the on-screen action, in some scenes almost making you feel part of the story. It also helps that the cast is a group of relative unknown actors by not having familiar faces in the cast you are left wondering who will survive and what will be left of them.
The DVD comes with virtually no special features. The A/V Quality is rather sharp for being an independent horror film. If that wasn’t enough, you also get some killer audio. I’m not that familiar with Cameron Romero’s horror work outside of this film. But, I’m impressed enough to recommend a rental.
RELEASE DATE: 10/06/09