Movie Review : 4/20 Massacre (2018)
Slashers are arguably the most popular subgenre of horror movies. And why wouldn't they be? They have predictable codes, disposable protagonists that get killed in creative and satisfying ways and lovable monsters that each have their own signature gimmick like Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger. They're almost more of a ritual of purging sick and repressed emotions than they are actual movies. Longing for another slasher experience, I've watched the upcoming 4/20 Massacre this weekend. A stoner-themed slasher. What could go wrong, huh?
WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
So, 4/20 Massacre is the story of a group of girls with a fluid sexual orientation that goes camping for Jess (Jamie Bernadette)'s birthday. They are warned early on by the ranger (Jim Storm) that guerilla weed growers are operating in the park and that people have been disappearing recently. Soon after, they meet a delirious stoner (Mark Schroeder) who passes a backpack full of weed before running off (and getting brutally killed, but we'll get back to that). Normal people would've dumped the package right away, but it's 4/20 and the girls are a little slow on the uptake...
The most important aspect of a slasher movie is the kills. Are the kills cool in 4/20 Massacre? They kind of are. They range from disembowelment (generic, but brutal) to creative stuff like a forced deep-throating of a bong (which was also sexually awkward) and a blinding using a lit blunt. I also love that everything was filmed under what seemed to be a scorching afternoon sun. Whether this is a deliberate production choice or due to budget limitations, 4/20 Massacre doesn't use darkness to artificially ratchet the tension and create cheap jump scares. Slashers are hyperviolent by nature and 4/20 Massacre more than lives up to its heritage.
The marijuana-themed gimmick in 4/20 Massacre was little weak-sauce and part of that is due to the girls being weak protagonists in their own movies. Only one of them is a stoner. They're just party girls going camping in the forest. They're not obnoxious and superficial like traditional slasher protagonists either. Every other character around them are over-the-top caricatures who fully belong in a slasher film, like the emotionally unpredictable park ranger Rick. The girls are flat and underdeveloped and there's a lot of time spent around them talking, working out issues and taking one miserable group bong hit. They were... ugh... boring? I mean, it's a weed movie, can the protagonist be fucking stoners, please?
4/20 Massacre is a great idea on paper. It has an intriguing gimmick, a rewarding inner logic (the slasher is attracted by the smell of weed), but there are two movies coexisting inside it. An over-the-top and hyperviolent slasher cut with mumblecore interludes. That jarred me away from paying attention more than once. I mean, you can't judge a slasher movie like you judge a normal film so I guess 4/20 Massacre got the job done with the cleverness and the creative kills. I could not keep away from my phone from the point the girls settled in the forest to when the killing started, though. And that isn't good.