The rousingly titled 4/20 Massacre attempts to cash in on the “unofficial holiday” with blood, guts, slasher horror, and mounds of marijuana. In fact, a case can be made that the film may have been too eager to hit screens – the distributor couldn’t wait to release this film on Friday, April 20 apparently. No worries for me though; I wanted an excitable movie to entertain me. However, 4/20 Massacre amounts to a major buzzkill.
It’s puzzling how writer/director Dylan Reynolds bungled up this simple premise: five girlfriends go camping in the woods for a birthday weekend only to be warned by the forest ranger about dangerous nearby “farmers” who are protective of their marijuana grow ops. When a couple of country bumpkins pinch some of the herb and pawn it off on the women, a hooded maniac stalks the camping crew.
Reynolds abides by the rules of “dead teenager” horror and tosses in some backwoods tropes for good measure. While not entirely original, it’s a combination that can work for over-the-top camp – the type of film this needed to be. Unfortunately, 4/20 Massacre distracts itself with needless, individual exposition. It’s nice that Reynolds wants to put in some extra effort when establishing character archetypes, but what’s the point if he’s baiting the audience for a silly flick? To get away with that, he needed to accompany the substance with a clever payoff for the audience; perhaps with horror satire (The Cabin in the Woods, the Scream franchise) or playful nods towards cannabis culture (the Harold and Kumar series, Ripped). For instance, this film could’ve been a horror version of Pineapple Express, where stoned paranoia plays a key factor in the high anxiety of the victims.
Dylan Reynolds needed to remind himself every day on set that he was making a movie called 4/20 Massacre, a film that will automatically attract a curious Midnight Madness crowd. Those movie goers want to be shocked into laughter or scared out of their socks. The film does deliver in gruesome bursts (a bong impaling is just fantastic), but the dull stretches outnumber the fun.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie