Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Staunton Hill (2009)

DVD cover for Staunton Hill (2009)Staunton Hill (2009) by #GeorgeCRomero AKA #CameronRomero

w/#KathyLamkin #CristenCoppen

In 1969 the winds of a change are blowing… But on a farm in the hills of Virginia, a storm of evil has been brewing for years.

“In God’s Name They Prey”


It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes & DVDs comes…

Staunton Hill (2009) is another movie made by the son (or daughter) of a famous movie director. There have been a few of those in recent years (Brandon Cronenberg, Jason Reitman, Panos Cosmatos, etc.).

I seem to recall Staunton Hill getting some positive buzz when it first came out, and I bought a copy on DVD. I presume that I enjoyed it well enough to keep it in my library, because there it’s sat for the past 12 years (or so). I didn’t remember too much about it, other than the fact that it surprised me by being a relatively straight forward slasher film. George A. Romero never made one of those, so good for Cameron to not be totally following in his father’s footsteps.

I am a fan of both George A. Romero and slasher films, so Staunton Hill seems like it should be a winning combination. I was surprised, however, to see that it fares horribly on the IMDb, and in many other online reviews. People hate this movie. Since I couldn’t remember it well enough to know how correct they are, I decided that it was time to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

The most surprising thing (once again) about Staunton Hill is that it’s not really much like a George A. Romero film. It’s more like a Tobe Hooper film; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) to be exact. I love The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but this is not necessarily a good thing. There have been so many ripoffs and lame attempts to copy The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that when I recognize that this is what a movie is doing, I tend to roll my eyes and say “not another one of these.” I wrote about a few of these on other #TrashOrTerrorTuesdays not too long ago…

Staunton Hill is set in 1969, but it’s never really convincing in that. I found myself forgetting and thinking that it was sometime in the 1990s. Not sure what the point of that was anyway, except to be able to make reference to Night Of The Living Dead (1968) as if it was a recent movie.

There are some good actors in it, most of them not recognizable. There’s some decent gore. The story flatlines pretty quickly after the characters find themselves stranded on an isolated farm. Not sure why they continue to hang around there, when the owners are pretty darn creepy and not to be trusted. Why don’t they just walk to the main highway (which we’ve been told is not that far away). But then the movie would end without a bunch of dumb-asses getting killed, wouldn’t it?

So what’s the verdict?

Staunton Hill (2009) is mostly Trash, with a small side of mild Terror. Yes, there are some effective moments of horror and suspense. But, as many critics point out, it takes a long time to get to them. And the story is not all that compelling or believable. It’s even convoluted and confusing at times – which is quite a feat for something that is basically really straight-forward. It’s not as bad as many people seem to say. It’s really just okay. Worth a watch if you’re curious to see what George A. Romero’s son is like as a filmmaker. But, as always, you’re much better off watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – or anything by George A. Romero.