Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Stacey Danger, Justine Wachsberger, Marissa Pistone, Jim Storm
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Equiv. to "R"
"4/20 Massacre" Can't Help But Aim High
Written and directed by Dylan Reynolds, 4/20 Massacre is, as you may or may not guess, a stoner-themed slasher flick centered around five young women who head out to the woods to celebrate one of their birthdays but find themselves fighting for their lives when they stumble across an illegal marijuana grow operation. Jess (Jamie Bernadette, All Girls Weekend), Aubrey (Vanessa Rose Parker, Before the Lights Come Up), Donna (Stacey Danger, The Neon Demon), Rachel (Justine Wachsberger, Now You See Me 2), and Michelle (Marissa Pistone, Raze) are not your usual low-budget indie horror stock characters even with Danger's presence here as Donna, the resident stoner whose typical stoner behaviors are refreshingly underplayed in favor of actual character development.
While 4/20 Massacre for the most part avoids caricatures, that's not to say that the young women here don't fit nicely within their roles. Jess, whose birthday it is, is the healthiest and most responsible one of the bunch, the group's semi-maternal spirit and caretaker who just sort of sits back and watches as the rest of the women begin some serious substance intake not realizing they're within arm's reach of their worst nightmares. Rachel is the group's player having brought along the group's newcomer, Michelle. Aubrey, on the other hand, harbors a secret crush she hopes to reveal.
It's much credit to Dylan Reynolds that time is taken to allow us to get to know each of the five ladies and the film's ensemble cast is uniformly strong with Jamie Bernadette and Stacey Danger perhaps given the most room to shine courtesy of characters with multiple layers to explore.
4/20 Massacre starts off with a rather slow simmer, a double killing kicking things off in relatively light fashion with the second being a graphic massacre that really isn't quite that graphic. D.P. Kyle Stryker's lensing gives the film a sort of washed out look that sort of dilutes the impact of the film's most graphic killings but also draws us in to the film's more emotionally resonant sequences. Angela Winter Defoe's original score companions the film quite nicely, while Reynolds himself maintains an appropriate tone, albeit a fluctuating one, throughout the film's nearly 90-minute running time.
Arriving on VOD and DVD on April 3rd, surprisingly NOT 4/20, 4/20 Massacre is a solid indie horror entry that takes a set-up that is ultra-familiar and puts some twists and turns in there to keep it all interesting. While it's unlikely to be the best low-budget horror flick you've seen this year, it's a solid ensemble effort that intensifies in the film's second half and includes some majorly graphic kills toward the end that should please most gorehounds.
For more information on 4/20 Massacre, visit the film's Facebook page linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic