Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for A Classic Horror Story.
One would expect that A Classic Horror Story would be exactly that — a classic horror story, playing on themes from movies like Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw, or Halloween. And, in some ways, it does pay homage to some classic horror films. It’s certainly filled with tropes, like walking into a clearly dangerous building, already injured, while the whole audience screams, “Don’t go in there!”
But A Classic Horror Story isn’t just about the kinds of horror stories that play out on our movie screens. In fact, some very real lore is at the heart of the film. Read on for an explanation of the confusing ending of the movie and how the Italian Mafia played a crucial role.
What was going on in the ending of 'A Classic Horror Story'?
In A Classic Horror Story, the audience, as well as the movie’s victims, learn from Fabrizio (Francesco Russo) that residents of a nearby village turned into a mindless flock after making sacrifices to the mythical beings Osso, Mastrosso, and Carcagnosso. The three supernatural creatures saved the village from a famine, and they wanted tongues, ears, and eyes in return. The villagers made good on their promise of sacrifices, but for their actions, they were cursed.
Our heroine, Elisa (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz), who is pregnant and plans to abort, crashed supposedly near the village, along with her fellow travelers, Mark (Will Merrick), Sofia (Yuliia Sobol), and Ricardo (Peppino Mazzotta). Following the crash, they wake up in a forest clearing nearby a cabin that’s strangely not actually near a road. They follow the sounds of screams inside to the attic, where they meet Chiara (Alida Baldari Calabria), who was one of the villagers’ victims. Her tongue was cut out.
Though they all attempt to escape, Mark is the first to be sacrificed by masked tormentors. Upon trying to get out, the rest of the group find themselves going in circles, and they end up back at the house. Worse yet, they stumble upon many abandoned cars, a clear sign that they weren’t the first victims at the house.
Ricardo and Sofia are the next to be killed, and Elisa realizes far too late that Fabrizio’s story was far from the truth. He’s not a travel video director at all. He’s the director of gory horror movies, and Elisa is now in one. She learns that he drugged the group. Plus, his hearing aid is no hearing aid — it's how he's communicating with the murderers.
Chiara is also no simple victim. She’s been his accomplice, helping him to keep his victims where he needs them to be for his movie. However, it’s not just Fabrizio’s movie. We learn that this is far from the first movie that’s been made this way, and the Italian Mafia are the ones who have commissioned them. As Fabrizio explains, people devour movies with gruesome violence, and the best way to get such violence is by making it happen for real.
But Fabrizio isn’t happy about the Mafia’s plans being discovered. Elisa is then taken for her own torture scene, where she’s supposed to be killed by who we learn is Fabrizio’s mother. But she manages to escape, only to overhear Fabrizio turning his rage on Chiara, who turns out to be his sister. Elisa gets the drop on Chiara first, shooting her dead with a shotgun. She shoots Fabrizio next, injuring his leg.
Though he begs for a solution in which he’s allowed to live, Elisa decides that the best ending for the movie that she was forced into is to kill Fabrizio.
Elisa manages, though very injured, to walk away until she reaches a beach. Terrifying the beachgoers, she walks into the water, where she bleeds out while cradling her stomach.
Did Elisa die?
Elisa was the only survivor of the original group. Though she was bleeding profusely thanks to the nails that were put in her hands while she was being held captive, many people saw her enter the water. Though we don’t see her call for medics, someone else would likely have upon seeing a young woman bleeding out in the ocean.
We also get a hint that Elisa will end up having her baby after all, considering that she decides to affectionately cradle her belly. Though her mother had wanted her to abort, it seems like Elisa has decided to follow her own heart.
What was up with the Mafia in 'A Classic Horror Story'?
In A Classic Horror Story, Fabrizio brags that, in his movie, he’s managed to hide the Mafia’s real crimes by pretending that they are because of legendary monsters and their demand for sacrifices. But Fabrizio didn’t make Osso, Mastrosso, and Carcagnosso up. Those creatures actually have a long history with the Italian Mafia.
As the story goes, back in 15th century Spain, the three were brothers and a part of a religious group called La Garduña. When their sister was raped, they decided to kill the man who did it, which led to their banishment to Favignana, one of the Sicilian Islands. Imprisoned, they wrote rules for a new society, run by their own code of ethics, and they devoted themselves to Jesus Christ, St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Peter.
After being released 30 years later, they swore to abide by the code they’d written. Osso created the Honored Men of Sicily, while Mastrosso and Carcagnosso went to mainland Italy. Mastrosso created the Honored Men of Calabria and Carcagnosso formed the Honored Men of Campagna.
The Honored Men of Calabria is better known as ‘Ndrangheta, an organized crime group that would go on to take in revenue greater than many European countries. The Honored Men of Campagna’s future boss would later create the youngest of Italy’s four major organized crime groups, Sacra Corona Unita, in 1981.
The big reveal at the end is that the very movie that we watched was also watched by a man on a platform called Bloodflix, who was less than impressed by it and gave it a poor rating. This man is essentially us, and Bloodflix is, obviously, a play on Netflix.
A Classic Horror Story seems to be chastising us, to remind us that we’re so desensitized to violence that we fund. Our desire for bloodshed was why Elisa was tortured, and we simply don’t care.
A Classic Horror Story is streaming now on Netflix.