Staunton Hill Review

If you don't want to be compared with your father, don't use his name. Even better still ply a different trade or at least do something very different to what he does. Do not, I repeat, do not get him to recommend your work and try to sell something you know is deeply inferior to his efforts on the back of that recommendation. Cameron, change your name, become a director of romantic comedies, do something worthwhile but don't stick daddy's approval slap bang on the centre of your posters and DVD covers. Just don't do it.

Because you force me to say this, that your film is competent in all areas save for two. You don't know what a good screenplay looks like and you don't know what your purpose is. You seem to think that flash backs are a cool and novel device for revealing twists and turns and this is why you use them ad nauseam. You can't see that characters stolen from the likes of Jack Hill and Roger Corman and plopped into a car crash of the stories of Saw and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre hardly counts for originality. You don't also stop yourself from using radio and TV announcements as you'll believe it's a nice homage to dad.

The actors in Staunton Hill are fine, the production is perfectly acceptable too with strong and graphic scenes of violence served up well, and the cinematography, despite some attempts to be rad, is most satisfactory. The story is not though - the merging of mental illness and learning disability into a monstrous inbred is quite a heinous and ignorant choice, the re-running of the city slickers fighting the rural inbreds angle is obvious, there is no mystery despite the supposed revelations and the dumbness of the mini biographies after each death is simply awful.

Knowing how to shoot, knowing how to let actors do their job - these are great qualities for a director, but a director also needs a purpose and the ability to know good writing. On the latter two counts, Cameron Romero proves that those qualities are not genetic, and consequently Staunton Hill is a very empty vessel indeed.

The Disc - This is a barebones release which just creeps on to the second layer of a region 2 encoded disc. The transfer itself is not bad with a deliberate softness of appearance minimising the extent of the detail, colours restrained and brightness muted. This is all perfectly in keeping with how the film is shot and the audio tracks are similarly well mastered with a much greater depth and dimension apparent in the atmospherics of the 5.1 mix. Bitrates on the audio seem a bit low and the complete lack of extras may put off some of you.

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