I’ll be honest, when I heard there was a movie called 4/20 Massacre I did not have the highest expectations. (Highest, LOL). The movie is dubbed as the first stoner-slasher and that sets up, at least in my mind, the expectation of a stoner comedy mixed with a classic slasher and that’s a tough combo to pull off successfully. Stoner comedies and slashers are similar in that they either work really well or they’re extremely aggravating. Put two and two together and it because twice has hard to nail down. So suffice to say, I expected that 4/20 Massacre would quickly run dry and repeat the same joke from start to finish. I’m happy to report that I was wrong.
Five ladies head out to the woods for a camping trip over 4/20 weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday. As they make the walk to their campground they run into a park ranger. This is a standard horror trope where we meet an authority figure that should be good but you can’t quite tell what his angle is. You can’t be sure that this park ranger is a bad guy, but he doesn’t seem all that good. He eventually takes a beer from the ladies so maybe he’s just a drunk? At any rate, he tells the girls to have a good time but warns to stay away from the mountains because an illegal weed plantation is set up there and those that run the plantation ain’t too kind to strangers. Whatevs.
Eventually, the group of ladies come across a costumed killer dead set on protected the weed and a battle for their lives breaks out. This road to survival contains a number of weed jokes, some better than others.
The absolute highlight of 4/20 Massacre and what makes most of the movie work is the portrayal of our five leading ladies. Each one is written incredibly well and given real character depth. A big problem with a lot of slashers, especially the indie low-budget variety, is that the characters are all cookie-cutter tropes, just there to serve as fodder for our killer. That’s the case here. Each girl has a different unique personality and their own issues that they’re trying to work through. One of the girls likes one of the others and isn’t sure how to approach her about it. There are some really sweet moments where she’s trying to determine the best way to go about this and seeking advice from one of the other friends. Some of the best scenes within the film are when the girls are together and just talking, setting up their campsite. It’s this likability that makes their impending doom matter. Unlike a lot of movies, you don’t want to see these characters die.
The kills do leave a bit to be desired. They’re not wholly originally and with a new slasher it’s always fun to get new kills. The effects are acceptable and a cut above what you see in a lot of low-budget slasher fare these days. They appear, at least to my untrained eye, to be a mix of practical and digital. I’ll take that.
The pacing could also use a little work. I would’ve liked the movie to be a little quicker and more fluid. It opens with a couple of guys searching for this weed plantation and when they find it they’re thrilled. Little do they know there’s a lunatic killer waiting for them. This is a solid little opening that pulls you in, but then it bogs down just a bit before the action picks back up.
All and all, 4/20 Massacre is a fun, little slasher filled with plenty of weed jokes and a good soundtrack (seriously, I’d buy this thing on vinyl). If you yourself are a pothead or have friends that are potheads, you’ll probably find this really enjoyable. If you’re Jeff Sessions and hate potheads, you’ll probably want to pass without puffing. And if you just like a good slasher, this one will do. Here’s to more films from writer/director Dylan Reynolds in the future.
4/20 Massacre is currently available on DVD and will be playing at the California Institute of Abnormal Arts in North Hollywood now through April 27th.