New Horror Releases: 4/20 Massacre (2018) - Reviewed

Josie reviews 4/20 Massacre

When reviewing direct-to-DVD horror, one counts herself lucky if even one component of the film works; the actors are passable, or the story is intriguing, or, at least the special effects are good. To find a low budget, direct-to-DVD horror movie that possesses not one, but all of the above, and more is akin to hitting the lottery. Viewers, especially those familiar with the average quality level of Indie horror films, would most likely not expect much from a film titled 4/20 Massacre, and 999 times out of 1000, they'd be right. But, occasionally, there's a diamond amidst the dung and this film is that rare gem. First time feature film writer and director Dylan Reynolds has somehow managed to make not just a "good for what it is" genre film, but a truly quality film all around.

Undoubtedly, the strongest aspect of the film is the ensemble. A stoner slasher featuring an all-female cast gives the film a different perspective and dynamic, especially considering the characters are all incredibly well written, fleshed out, interesting people that are easy to care about. The five actresses cast in the film had phenomenal chemistry that played on screen as true comradery and affection for each other. Each role was perfectly cast and extremely well-acted, though Stacey Danger's stoner chick, Donna, deserves special recognition, easily stealing all of her scenes with her against trope, non-burnout, smart pot head.

The production of the film is also top notch. Gore and guts are part of slashers, and Special Effects Designer Brennan Jones does an excellent job with the limits placed by the budget, creating a few particularly memorable, gnarly kills. The location and camera work together to serve the story well, with some interesting shots to give the viewer a slight glimpse of the villain and keep tensions high. All around, the quality of the film far surpasses the limits that should've been placed on it by its budget.

In this modern age of shock horror and torture porn, Reynolds takes a different approach, focusing on building complex characters and allowing those dynamics to progress the story and also fuel the terror. The script is tight and full of believable, fun dialogue that plays naturally and allows the viewer to build relationships with the characters, while also highlighting the dynamics the inter-personal relationships of the group. The story itself is solid, and, in another rare find, even the villain is complex and interesting. While it certainly isn't an original concept, this story is not simply a rehash of every other slasher that's come before it. There are layers and depth that give 4/20 Massacre a space all its own. This film, with the right word of mouth and promotion, has everything it takes to become a new cult classic, if people will only give it a chance. 

Puff and pass this review.

-Josie Stec