4/20 Massacre Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Film Chest

420 massacre poster

Written and directed by Dylan Reynolds
2018, 85 minutes, Rated R
Released on 3rd April 2018

Jamie Bernadette as Jess
Vanessa Rose Parker as Aubrey
Stacey Danger as Donna
Justine Wachsberger

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Stoner movies tend to operate under the assumption that weed is inherently hilarious. While there is undeniably some mileage to be had in stoners acting like baked imbeciles – Cheech and Chong made a pretty good career out of it, and Pineapple Express is one of my favourite comedies – pot is not in itself a punchline.

Dylan Reynolds’ slasher film clearly thinks it is. The holiday-themed horror film is a tradition dating back to Black Christmas and Halloween (and A Christmas Carol, if you want to go there), with every major festival getting a look-in over the following years. Now the unofficial day of pot, 4/20, gets its due, and its very own massacre too. When a group of young women hiking in the woods stumble across a backwoods weed farm, they also come across its guardian – a shabby, stabby psychopath looking like a cross between The Burning’s Cropsy and a Game of Thrones Night Watchman. One by one, they’re picked off and wasted. Or wasted and picked off, depending on which variation of the word you want to go for.

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Quite who 4/20 Massacre is going to appeal to is unclear. Like most pot-themed films, it’s probably meant to be watched while in a mashed haze, but it’s not nearly visually inventive, silly or surreal enough to make a good party film. Fans of old-school slasher films won’t find much to enjoy either, as it’s often slow, boring and full of cliché, the flaws vastly outweighing the funky slasher design and cool kill sequences. Like most stoner movies, much of its dialogue consists of characters yapping on about pot, smoking pot or looking for pot, and when pot isn’t on the screen, all the other characters should be asking ‘where’s the pot?’ It may find a handful of fans in the sort of dullards who describe their interests as ‘weed’ on social media and wear baseball caps with cannabis leaves on, but even they might find it a little dry, any excitement quickly waning after that initial pump of “Hey, weed! I smoke weed.” It looks like, sounds like and sells itself as a horror comedy, but there are no jokes and no humour beyond the reefer.

There is minor salvation in the characters, who are slightly more interesting and likeable than the usual Wacky Baccy Bros and annoying hippies who tend to populate this sort of thing. Most remarkably, at least two of them are gay and none of them are overtly sexualised, ogled or otherwise objectified by the film. While that approach isn’t going to win it many admirers either, the lack of misogyny is both surprising and appreciated. An all-female stoner horror film is an interesting idea, and it’s a shame that Reynolds couldn’t quite pull it off. For all his ambition, his cast are wasted, in a third sense of the word.

4/20 Massacre is well-made and cast, but it’s a lifeless chore, lacking even the dumb humour of a Charles Band joint or the cheap thrills of any other film with ‘massacre’ in the title. Like many a serious hobbyist pothead, it’s a bit of a glazed-over bore.

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Movie: 2 Star Rating Cover

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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