High school reunions, love them or hate them, have been the source of many genre films including this one. Paintball Massacre, not to be confused with another film from the UK the similarly titled and themed Paintball pits the former schoolmates against someone who’s out to rack up a real body count.
Jessica Bentley (Cheryl Burniston, Babes with Blades, Dragon Kingdom)is reluctantly attending her high school reunion, mostly at the urging of classmate turned fiancé Simon. When he can’t make it she’s ready to leave, but she’s locked her keys in her car. Nathan (Lee Latchford-Evans, The Rizen) who remembers her from Chess Club convinces her to come back to the pub and relax. From there she gets talked into staying for the next day’s paintball games.
They meet with the referees Shelly (Katy Brand, Nanny McPhee Returns, Psychobitches), Garry (Paul Holbrook, Instant Death) and Eddie (Robert Portal, Eat Locals, Tales from the Lodge) and the game begins. But when they find out the other team isn’t offering up much resistance because they’re all dead, things become a bit more complicated.
When you think of paintballers and real killers if anything comes to mind it’s probably Nico Mastorakis’ cult film The Zero Boys, if you’re really into 80s films, Masterblaster might cross your mind as well. Paintball Massacre’s writer Chris Regan (Ten Dead Men, London Heist) and director Darren Berry would have done well to have watched either of them.
Paintball Massacre bills itself as a horror comedy but the jokes rarely rise above Instagram model Lauren (Natasha Killip, Don’t Let Go) constantly wishing she had her phone to post shots of the victims. Or bartender Somerset (Nicholas Vince, Hellraiser, The Black Gloves) tale of a coworker who saw Death. Most of the attempts at humour revolve around the kind of bickering and insults that so many writers seem to think are funny. It just makes me wonder why these people wanted to see each other again as they seem to have hated each other since they were in school.
As a horror film it follows a basic slasher formula. Jessica quickly figures out they’re being killed in ways related to their jobs . A real estate agent is impaled on a “For Sale” sign, an Afghan War vet steps on a landmine, you get the idea. Which means the killer must be someone who knows them.
That puts suspicion on the missing Simon. Until the survivors remember the kid they all used to bully. Obviously, I won’t give the identity of the killer away but I will say Ian Virgo (Blackhawk Down) does a good job inside the suit.
While there are some nicely gorey bits there’s also a couple of traps that seem a bit elaborate and with a low probability of taking out their intended victim. Like the landmine I just mentioned. Or another involving a piece of heavy machinery in the middle of nowhere.
Most of the film takes place during the day which robs Paintball Massacre of a lot of atmosphere. As a result, it frequently felt more like it was trying to be an action film or a thriller than a horror film. And that’s probably the direction the filmmakers should have gone with it. It probably would have worked better than trying to be scary in broad daylight.
On second thought, no. A film where the characters have time to slowly walk through the woods while reminiscing about their school days isn’t going to work as action either.
Paintball Massacre is available on DVD and digital from Uncork’d Entertainment. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.