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Staunton Hill (2009)
Movie Review by The Gravedigger

Staunton Hill (2009) The movie's intro credits begin with shots of bloody implements in a farmhouse, intercut with a blonde girl having some type of surgery in a too bright white room. As expected, this all makes sense during the course of the movie.

In 1969 a group of 5 friends, two guys and three women, are hitching the back roads in order to get to a political rally in Washington D.C. After a hostile encounter with a racist guy at a gas station, they manage to get a ride from a guy named Quentin, who is way too eager to help them out. But his car isn't working too well and they end up stalling out in the countryside a short time later. So they all head out on foot again. They soon come across an old farmhouse, which looks deserted at first, and camp out in the barn the first night. Two of the friends, who are a couple, have sex in the hay.

The next day they find out that the farm belongs to the Staunton family. This is obese Louise, her retarded son Buddy and her wheelchair bound mother. When Buddy first sees the group he ends up hitting one of the guys in the face with a shovel. Then Louise comes out and apologizes and offers them a meal.

The friends begin to get comfortable and let their guard down, which is exactly what the Stauntons want. When one of the young women goes to find a bathroom in the house Louise tells her it's not working and that she should use the one on the other side of the barn. She does this--and finds an utterly filthy bathroom in what looks like a crude operating room. She also encounters Buddy, who kills her, straps her to a table and starts cutting her apart. While this is happening, one of the other characters is describing to another how farm animals are slaughtered, which makes it even more unsettling. Soon after, the mother blows away the leg of the token black guy with a shotgun. He wakes up to find himself tied up--and witnesses Buddy scalping his girlfriend, just like in a scene from MANIAC.

In the end it comes down to one of the women surviving and escaping, though there's a somewhat predictable "twist" ending that does not lead to anything good happening to her.

STAUNTON HILL has good production values, solid acting and suitably gruesome special effects that would be right at home in a TEXAS CHAINSAW movie. But I didn't quite understand why the movie was set in 1969, other than that NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD came out around then. There's a few anachronisms such as one character telling another to fasten her seat belt--when most cars didn't even have seatbelts--or when Mrs. Staunton tells one of the hitchers that smoking is bad for them--when back then no one was aware of the health hazards of cigarettes.

Directed by Cameron Romero, son of George Romero.

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