If your last name is Romero, and you father's first name is George, and you decide to make a horror movie, you better make damn sure you're making something special. As the son of legendary filmmaker George Romero, you should know that a lot of eyes are going to be on you, expectations will be high, and that every dickhead critic with an opinion or an ax to grind is going to be watching what you do with more scrutiny than you can likely handle. And if you do know all of this, then you should seriously consider the ramifications of venturing into a genre in which your father is reigning king. But even more important than that, you should make sure that the movie you are making is not from a script that sucks ass.
Cameron Romero directs this slow-moving, cliché-ridden excuse for a horror movie that mines deep from the well of films about chainsaw massacres that take place in Texas. Set in 1969--for reasons that must have made sense to the filmmakers--Staunton Hill finds a group of five friends hitchhiking their way to Washington D.C. for some sort of rally. Since its 1969, we can assume it's either to protest the war in Vietnam, or demand equal rights, or whatever sort of political motivations you could think of to give these two-dimensional characters some life. Unfortunately, none of that expository crap is here, These lifeless--and soon to be dead--jokers are just heading from one point to another, and stuck somewhere in the middle where gruesome death awaits in the second act. When they accept a ride from a stranger, you know things will get bad. And how do you know this? Because you've seen it in every horror movie where unsuspecting young people either accept a ride from a stranger, or give a stranger a ride.
After the strangers car breaks down--in the middle of nowhere, of course--our group of hapless travelers seek refuge at a farmhouse. Oh no!!! Not a farmhouse!!! That's right...a farmhouse. And not just any farmhouse...this farmhouse is occupied by a crazy family, including a big, oafish brute with a deformed face, a crazy old grandmother in a wheelchair, and Bible-thumping mother. After a tedious build up, our heroes/soon-to-be-corpses are falling victim to Buddy, the Leatherface-like killer that has neither the face of leather, nor any of the eccentric charm of the Sawyer family's favorite chainsaw-wielding son.
Okay, before I go any further, let me warn anyone reading this. The language is about to get salty, so if you can't handle profanity, stop reading now. Okay? You've been warned. Don't go any further.
Watching Staunton Hill, one word kept running through my mind--"fuck." Fuck this movie sucks. Fuck, this script is a fucking piece of fucking shit. When the fuck will this fucking garbage be over?
Starting off sluggish and boring, Staunton Hill moves at an excruciatingly slow pace, taking nearly 45 minutes to get to the "good stuff." And by "good stuff," I mean the scenes of torture and murder that have given horror movies a bad name these last few years, sending the genre into a downward spiral of gratuitous violence that borders on sick perversion. And like I said, that's the "good stuff." The direction by Romero is passable at best, but the script by David Rountree is trash. I mean come on...this is the best you can come up with--a lifeless, watered-down bullshit rip-off of Texas Chainsaw Massacre that doesn't have one single scary moment in it?
There are people who will be entertained by Staunton Hill. I am certainly not one of those people. There wasn't a thing about the movie that was anything less than unremarkable--with the exception of the maybe the gore effects. And while I like a good horror movie and some nasty looking gore as much as the next person, I did not like this movie. It was boring, not scary, predictable (even though it tries to have a clever twist at the end), and all in all an unpleasant experience to endure.
Staunton Hill is presented in 1.75:1 widescreen. The picture quality is good and the transfer is decent, which is the most positive thing that can be said about this boring mess.
Staunton Hill is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital in English, with optional English subtitles. The sound levels are good, though the mix is not all that sharp, with dialog, music and effects blending together a bit too much. But really, who cares?
There is nothing in Staunton Hill that has not been done better in other movies. Watching this film amounts to nothing less than a complete waste of time--unless you paid for it, and then it also represents a complete waste of money.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]