Despite being billed as the first-ever “stoner slasher” writer/director Dylan Reynolds’ (NIPPLES AND PALM TREES) 4/20 MASSACRE is another in a long tradition. Some recent examples being PSYCHOTIC! , WELCOME TO WILLITS, or even STAR LEAF. It is, however, the first film I can think of to use this particular date for a “holiday horror” film.
The plot is textbook backwoods horror. A prelude involving two would be dope thieves trying to raid a hidden grow op and running into its guardian who seems to be part ninja and part Jason Voorhees. A group of young women out hiking run into the surviving thief who gives them his backpack and runs off, leaving them marked for death as well.
But, as I’ve said before, with a film like this it isn’t so much the story as how you tell it, and 4/20 MASSACRE tells it very well. There’s a couple of twists so it isn’t totally predictable but it isn’t trying to reinvent the genre either. The killings aren’t as numerous as some films but there’s plenty of blood and the effects are mostly excellent.
There are some issues with the pacing. The film starts and ends well but it slows considerably in the middle for some serious characterization among the women. It’s better done and more believable here but dropping it all at once slows the film down badly.
The cast is certainly on point. Jamie Bernadette plays Jess, the group’s leader, and birthday girl. She’s always good, even in crap like her other recent film KILLING JOAN, and FACE OF EVIL. ALL GIRLS WEEKEND proved she knows her wilderness survival skills. Veteran actor Jim Storm (BLUE SUNSHINE, NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS) also stands out as Ranger Rick, (yeah I groaned too). Stacy Danger (NEON DEMON) and Vanessa Rose Parker who also produced 4/20 MASSACRE are worth mentioning as well.
In the end, there’s a lot more slasher than stoner to 4/20 MASSACRE but that’s OK. The psychotic pot farmer makes a good gimmick and overall the film delivers the goods. Pumping up the pacing would have helped, but it’s still a good film to see with some bud(s).
4/20 MASSACRE will be available on VOD and DVD 4/3 from Film Chest