Anchor Bay // 2009 // 89 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 23rd, 2009
In God's name they prey.
From Cameron Romero, zombie auteur George Romero's son, comes a movie about a hick family with a deformed child who kills people.
It's 1969 and a group of college-aged hippies are on their way to a big activist rally. Since they're hippies, they have very little money and no dependable means of conveyance, so they end up stranded on a homestead called Staunton Hill, run by a large, mean woman, her invalid mother, and her son who may or may not be inbred.
At first, things don't seem too bad -- a drafty barn to sleep in, some mild hay rashes, and that's about it. But when the Stauntons get their murder and torture on, things get really uncomfortable.
There's absolutely nothing going on here you haven't seen before, but I'll hand it to Romero -- he takes well-worn territory and makes it disgusting.
Staunton Hill isn't quite torture porn, but it's very close...like the Cinemax equivalent. There's plenty of gratuitous action, but it stops just short of being super hardcore, mainly because the bloodletting isn't prolonged. However, Romero ensures what gets on screen counts, and the sequences when the Staunton kid gets a hold of the victims can be genuinely nasty. It's obvious a large portion of the budget -- not astronomical to begin with, I presume -- went straight to the practical effects, as the violence is rendered impressively. The money shots had me grimacing and turning away, which is no easy feat.
Unfortunately, besides the gore factor, there isn't much to recommend in Staunton Hill. A plot twist is tossed in, to keep the story from being completely derivative, and one of the characters turns out to be memorable in his sheer douchiness, but that's all. The main characters are as one-dimensional as any other cannon fodder meatbags in your typical slasher flick, so when they inevitably do bite the big one, it's just the grotesque manner in how they are dispatched that elicits an emotional response...which may in reality be a gag reflex.
The villains aren't that great either. Just sort of boring and familiar. The mentally challenged oaf kid is your standard-issue dopey redneck, simultaneously invincible and borderline non-functional. Roly-poly mom makes a lot of noise. She has a shotgun too.
You want some unsettling violence and great practical gore effects? Staunton Hill will scratch that itch. Just don't expect any collateral entertainment.
A bare bones DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround, no extras.
Bloodshed. And you're done.
Based purely on gore, not guilty. For everything else, slap the cuffs on.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated