4/20 Massacre (USA) 2017
Writer – Dylan Reynolds
Director – Dylan Reynolds
Releases April/3/2018 on VOD and DVD
Surprise, surprise here we have yet another film with the word ‘Massacre’ prominently in its title. Naturally, there will be those flocking to its allure, like mesmerized moths to a flame, merely because of this (me chief among them). However, this film, based on its synopsis, appears slightly different than most even a handful of releases in recent years (Hansel and Gretel get Baked, Evil Bong, The Tripper, Idle Hands and Shrooms among a myriad of others) where cannibis, and other mind altering drugs, play a huge part in the story itself. Refreshingly, this film relies mainly on an all-female cast rather than the typical horny bunch of teens which might traditionally include a bullying jock, a curious nerd, a mysterious outcast and eyecandy in the form of a curvaceous scantily clad type who’s usually devoid of any common sense whatsoever. It’s par for the course folks, and had to be mentioned.
While it utilzes an all female cast 4/20 Massacre thankfully doesn’t depend on gratuitous displays of tits and ass for an audience, which don’t get me wrong isn’t always a bad thing. And the trailer doesn’t hint at this either although many might be left wondering… Hmmm, five ladies in the woods and copious amounts of alcohol I wonder what could possibly happen?
Of course the whole ‘a group of people in the woods getting stalked by an unknown presence’ isn’t in any way an exciting fresh or even ground-breaking concept in cinema. So, why even bother watching another, when the genres literally been beaten to an unrecognizable pulp, one might ask. Well, what makes 4/20 so utterly watchable is the way it handles the age-old premise.
The main cast led by Jamie Bernadette (I Spit on Your Grave: Deja vu and Killing Joan) supported by Rose Parker, Justine Wachsberger (Divergent), Marissa Pistonne (Raze) and Stacy Danger (Neon Demon) are everyday types, with relatable woes and niggling desires who understandably have the need to escape the city for a moment to reminisce, explore a table of carnal desire and get drunk all under the guise of celebrating a birthday.
Unbeknownst to them however, is that their destination has turned into quite the hot spot for cultivating crops of the illegal variety. True, this is not normally the premise of a horror movie perse’ but rather a thriller or drama that revolves around happy-go-lucky tourists travelling abroad to exotic locales. But in this instance it works well injecting backbone to the storyline whereas many others in the same genre are certainly lacking.
Jim Storm (Dark Shadows) makes an appearance as a surly Park Ranger (…call me Ranger Rick) with an obligatory warning that oddly put me in mind of An American Werewolf in London. His effective presence and brilliant portrayal of a custodial figure left to his own devices is highly effective in lending the feature a ‘believable’ aura.
The exploration and explanation of 4/20’s mythos adds a great touch to the film when least expected. But what makes the film truely shine are a number of elements, that not wholly unexpected are executed on another level entirely. The films soundtrack, with numerous nods to getting or feeling high is certainly different but works excellently. In essence it harkens back to an era when cheap cinema frolicked hand in hand with utter disregard for decency. Grindhouse rules, baby! Think Cannibal Holocaust depicting barbaric brutality against a soundtrack that would lull an infant to sleep. A fantastic choice from the creative team involved in relation to countless others who chose to abuse either a generic score, a blasting rock or an intense rap ‘snippet’ soundscape.
The acting is pleasantly decent, the interactions interesting enough to keep the audience entertained and scenarios throughout not so totally removed from the realm of believability, there’s no superheros, supernatural beings or intergalactic collective intent on harvesting a radical new galactic taste sensation (nod to Bad Taste, sorry had to insert it somehow) to be found here folks (sorry for the spoiler) as to take one out of the film entirely.
Then there’s the FX. Drumroll please…
I’ll keep the suspense for a while longer.
Admittedly, I’m quite the ravenous gorehound and have an unusually high demand for crimson and splatter in my choice of genre movie. More often that not I’m left wanting, dissapointed, hungry for the vivid imagery of shredded limb and the crunch that comes from the introduction of blunt instrument onto unsuspecting flesh. I’m glad to report 4/20 delivers with very little teasing. The effects are practical, chunky, gloriously unflinching and life-like. One scene tosses me back salivating to Dog Soldiers, another made me flinch with its bluntness while others yet play around with viewers assumptions. In certain instances moral justice is explored (don’t litter folks, it’s not nice!). Naturally traditional slasher rules apply, why would they not, the collective splits up, and those dipping into coitus are the first to meet their grisly ends. As well as all this there are also plot twists, red herrings, even an instance in which I was reminded of the brilliantly brutal French film Switchblade Romance (aka Haute Tension).
I guess what I’m really trying to impart is that 4/20 Massacre is far from the normal slasher flick. I’ll go so far as to state it’s a breath of fresh air, hopefully which will build into a gust with the support in all honesty it deserves, that’ll reinvigorate a genre much in need of inflating.
Here’s to the future.
As if you couldn’t guess or determine from my prose I believe this is a feature that’s warranted of an inclusion in any fans collection. It’s surprisingly entertaining…there I said it!
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