2018 / 85 mins. / horror
directed and written by Dylan Reynolds
starring Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Stacey Danger, Justine Wachsberger, Marissa Pistone,
James Gregory & Jim Storm
STONER SLASHER BLACK COMEDY FEELS PREDICTABLE BUT IS HIGH ON QUALITY KILLS AND GORE
by Chad Farmer
A group of friends (all women - which I think was a wise decision by the director) go on a camping trip. They’re celebrating the sacred holiday of April 20th, aka 4/20, National Stoner Day. Unfortunately for them, they decide to venture into a part of the woods where a massive amount of pot is being grown. From there, a bad situation turns even worse. I don’t want to ruin the plot too much but the good news for the happy campers is that they get a hold of some really good, freshly-picked sticky bud. The bad news is that it belongs to a homicidal maniac that needs it a little more than they do.
From there we get some good scares, a creepy and effective bad guy, and some creative kill scenes. Being a programmer for GenreBlast allows me to watch a lot of independent genre features. With that being said, I see lots of cookie cutter horror. You know; predictable plot, bad acting, and gore SFX that will leave you shaking your head. 4/20 Massacre is a little on the predictable side but that’s where my nitpicks end. There's plenty of black comedy and a really nasty bad guy in a very effective camouflage suit that makes the film memorable.
The plot takes you into familiar territory with films like Shrooms and Wrong Turn. Now that I think about it, putting Shrooms in the same category with this one isn’t very fair because that movie was way too trippy and it got lost in the effects of the hallucinogenic mushrooms. Director Dylan Reynolds (Chain Link, Nipples & Palm Trees) keeps 4/20 Massacre pretty grounded. He knows that you know that smoking pot can make you a little goofy and do some funny shit and takes advantage of that. Now Wrong Turn would be a much more fair comparison. Both films have some good gory kills and a really nasty villain that's good at sneaking up behind people, making a quick kill, and letting you know that he’s the meanest son of a bitch in the movie.
The first act does a great job of setting up the plot for you, which brings me back to my one minor issue with the movie as a whole. The second act lags just a bit in the middle. We get a tad too much background on the characters. In my opinion, there's a little too much dialogue. No worries though, because the all-female cast of leads (Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Stacey Danger, Justine Wachsberger, and Marissa Pistone) elevates this above your average dime-a-dozen slasher fare.
The standout role here is definitely Ranger Rick (Jim Storm). He plays the typical wise old man warning the kids “don’t go into them thar woods, DANGER LIES AHEAD!” Thankfully, he doesn’t actually say that since it would be too cliche. Like any other movie, the kids don’t listen. Hell, I don’t know if I would either after being told there’s a shit ton of Marijuana to be smoked. As the movie progresses, you get more of Ranger Rick and his acting only gets better. And yes, even he likes to smoke a little wacky tobaccy every once in a while.
The third act is where, if you're a big fan of gore and blood like myself, then you’ll be more than satisfied with some above average horror FX. My favorite scene is the opener. Without ruining it for you, a victim of the film's psycho killer attempts to avoid death in a very ineffective but hilarious way. Most independent horror films I watch are ruined in one of two ways. Either cutting away when a really good gory scene is about to happen or just having some really cheap-ass special FX. I'm pleased to say 4/20 Massacre doesn’t shy away from either.
Before I leave you, don’t let my minor nitpicks sway you from watching this fun and gory splatter fest. It may be a little predictable but the dialogue, cinematography, and soundtrack will not disappoint you. However you end up watching it, grab the extra extra large tub of popcorn, about two boxes of Milk Duds, a Diet Coke and sit back and get ready to get a bloody contact high off this gnarly slasher flick. Or you could just smoke a bowl. Up to you.