Staunton Hill

Year:  2009
Director: G. Cameron Romero
Cast:  Kathy Lamkin, Cristen Coppen, Kiko Ellsworth, Paula Rhodes

The year is 1969 (supposedly). A group of friends traveling to a rally in Washington, D.C. hitch a ride with a nice enough fellow they meet up with at a run down gas station. However, a few miles along their journey, the fellow's car breaks down, causing the group to have to hike through the hills in search of shelter and help. They happen upon an isolated farmhouse, which at first seems abandoned. They take it upon themselves to camp out in the barn for the night, only to be greeted by the Stauton family in the morning. This odd bunch consists of the the mother, grandmother, and a mentally challenged adult boy. At first, the family is nice (except the boy, who takes a hammer to one of the traveler's face for saying HI to him). It doesn't take long before the true intentions of the Staunton family is exposed and they friends begin getting brutally butchered and dismembered one by one.

The acting in Staunton Hill is actually pretty good. The setting is creepy and used to full effect. However, what the film has going for it is a few inspired moments of gore and how the killer casually goes about brutally disposing of his victims. It is rather disturbing, though the motive behind the killings is confusing and not fully elaborated on.
With that said, the plot is extremely clichéd. This is the same old "friends venture upon a isolated house and are slaughtered by a disturbed family" formula that we have seen many, many times before. Worse yet, director Cameron Romero (horror icon George Romero's son) does absolutely nothing new with the formula. It is business as usual as characters do the exact things we expect them to do and the film ends the exact way we expect it to end. The film is also suppose to be set in 1969; however, it is painfully obvious from the clothing, hair styles, and some set pieces that it is modern day. This is troubling because there is absolutely no reason mentioned for why the film has to be set in 1969. It would have been the exact same film had it been set in 79, 89, or 09. Romero's direction shows some inspired moments, yet is still pretty run-of-the-mill. When your last name is Romero and you are directing a horror film, you should probably take painstaking steps to make sure your film stands out among the countless others like it; this does not happen here. Maybe it us unfair to hold Cameron Romero to a higher standard, but with the Romero name plastered numerous times of the DVD cover, I think it is fair game. Does he show potential? Yes, but hopefully with his next project he makes an interesting movie that is not steeped in your typical horror clichés.While Staunton Hill isn't the worst movie of its kind, it certainly has very few redeeming qualities. It's clichéd, rather boring in parts, and offers nothing new to the genre. Rewatching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would be time better spent if you are dying to see a deranged family kill of innocent victims who stumble upon their residence.

Fright Meter Grade:

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