April 2, 2018 4/20 Massacre (Movie Review)
Slasher villains kill for many reasons. Some include they want to avenge the death of their mothers, extinguish their bloodline, or seek revenge for being burnt. Set for release on VOD and DVD Tuesday, April 3, 2018, through Film Chest, in 4/20 Massacre, the antagonist only tries to protect his valuable crops from nosy campers.
Billed as the first “Stoner Slasher,” the story starts with two hikers, Buddy (Mark Schroeder: Pretty Little Liars series, The UCB Show series) and Dug (Drew Talbert: Corporately Challenged series, Literally so Busy series), looking to plunder a cannabis-growing operation in the hills of a national park in California. The joy of discovering the green gold is only short-lived as Dug quickly gets his throat cut by a ghillie suit-clad, knife-swinging assassin (James Gregory – mostly known for his stunt work in several recent films), while Buddy is packing the already harvested buds they found in the camp.
Meanwhile, five friends arrive for a camping trip at the national park to celebrate Jess’ (Jamie Bernadette: All Girls Weekend 2016, American Satan 2017) birthday on the 4/20 weekend. As the path to their designated camping spot is not accessible by car, the girls take their belongings to make the way by foot. During their hike they encounter a park ranger, Rick (Jim Storm: Night of the Dark Shadows 1971, The Bold and the Beautiful series), warning them to stay away from the hills and crevasses, as criminal weed-growers use the national park as base of operations.
After the raunchy ranger drives off with a can of their beer, the party continues on their journey, soon encountering the horror-stricken Buddy, running from his certain death. Too shocked to properly speak, he simply forces the girls to take his weed-filled backpack with them. Donna (Stacey Danger: The Amateur 2014, The Neon Demon 2016), the stoner girl of the group, already cheering browsing the backpack’s content, urges the others to leave Buddy and make their way to camp to party, while Jess tries to help him. Unimpressed by her attempts, Buddy rather tries to make his way out, still having his friend’s death in mind.
Seemingly without any more thoughts wasted on the poor fellow they have just met, the women finally arrive at the camp site and soon start to set their tent, having fun eating hot dogs and drinking champagne and smoking from Donna’s bong. What they seem to ignore is the killer still lurking in the woods, waiting for his chance to retrieve his valuable plants.
Written and directed by Dylan Reynolds, in his directorial debut, 4/20 Massacre follows in the footsteps of classic ’80s Slasher films, such as 1980’s Friday the 13th or 1983’s Sleepaway Camp. Almost the first thing the audience will notice is the no-budget production quality of the film: The practical effects and gore are not made to impress, but rather to make the viewers laugh; however, this is not limited to those aspects. Sometimes the actors’ reactions are a little too careless about what is going on around them and sometimes they are overreacting, adding to the comedic feeling of the movie. What one could actually tell from watching is the actors really had a lot of fun shooting the film, with one or more lines being actual ad-libs.
While 4/20 Massacre follows the well-known formula of previous entries in the Slasher category, it tries to redeem itself through the deaths of its characters, which are indeed an important aspect for the genre, but fails to do so, as they are repeated, with only the weapons changing. Also, an important point to mention is the film being advertised as the first “Stoner Slasher,” which is debatable. Even though the film revolves around a killer being driven by his motivation to recover his stolen weed, there are films in the genre which unintentionally include more use of the plant in their plot than this flick. That in mind, offering too many unresolved subplots, the makers of 4/20 Massacre seemed a bit too eager to force a label on it to give it a frame.
Also scheduled for theatrical release in Los Angeles, California on, you guessed it, 4/20/2018, 4/20 Massacre is not a film that will leave a permanent impression on its audience, but it can be assumed this was not its writer/director’s intention. With plot holes, laughable dialogue, and recycled ideas from other Slashers, it often fails to entertain its viewers during its 84 minutes runtime. Due to these reasons, CrypticRock gives 4/20 Massacre 2 out of 5 stars.