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Breathe it in, suck it in and let me begin, 4/20 Massacre is the film to get you high on horror and humor that you should be watching right now, (cough, cough, cough) all the puns intended.
Directed, written and edited by Dylan Reynolds, 4/20 Massacre tells the story of 4 women, (Vanessa Rose Parker, Stacey Danger, Justine Wachsberger and Marissa Pistone) who go camping to celebrate a friend’s, (Jamie Bernadette) birth on her birthday weekend which so happens to be, 4/20. When they arrive, they encounter a backstory friendly ranger,(Jim Storm), a freaked out guy carrying a backpack full of ganja,(Mark Schroeder) and a guy shooting up some sort of varmint, (Jim Round) and despite the random meeting of all of these colorful characters they continue into the desolate woods. Even though the birthday girl and her childhood best friend would go to these woods growing up, a few things have changed like a hidden marijuana farm guarded by a deranged maniac. The films asks the questions, Will these friends reach the ultimate high or ultimately die?
I want to give a compliment to Reynolds for writing some believable interactions with the five female leads and nice scenes between these characters that definitely pass the Bechdel test. The cast is well rounded with the characters backstory and history with each other that is subtle but substantial. Earlier films in the woods such as, The Descent and all female led casts such as Black Christmas can be sensed thought out as well as Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and a bit of Nightmare on Elm Street. The music is effective and catchy and as the films goes further along one can definitely hear influence from films like Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th part VI and Swamp Thing with a nod to Quentin Tarantino in there as well.
While the character of Donna (Danger) is a bit of a cliche’ as the stoner of the film, she does give insight to the audience and her fellow castmates that 4/20 is not only about smokin’ the pots but also the horror that has fallen on that day throughout history.
While I would say the direction, editing and production were all top notch, there are definitely standouts in the film. First being the performance of Bernadette’s, Jess. Bernadette plays her with believable ease in the face of terror and her character is the most rational and relatable when the shit hits the fan. Bernadette is definitely an actress I will be looking out for in future films. Secondly, while I was annoyed by a character bringing a bong to the woods, it was the double use of the bong that I thought had one of the best examples of the film’s practical effects which were extremely well done in an independent film. Spoiler Alert, in other words someone gets killed by a bong, it was my favorite scene with the gore and camp and one of my favorite kills for 2018. It. Is. EPIC! And last but not least, while the kill scenes were bloody and believable, it was a scene between two of the ladies where someone is put in the “friend zone” that was possibly the most brutal and one of the harshest rejections on screen that I have seeen, in large part because of the superb performances and the dialogue in my opinion.
Shot in 10 days, out in the woods and it is a horror film that is completely in daylight, this is something else, woman! Reynolds has cornered the market on a stoner slasher holiday, horror film that has drama, action, gore and a bit of humor. With memorable performances and practical effects I believe this will be one of the better independent horror films to come out in 2018 and I would recommend giving a gander. Inhale, Exhale and Scream when it comes out on DVD and VOD April 3rd.
If you see me at the movies, I’ll be The Blonde in Front!