Stoner comedies have about a 50/50 success rate, so what’s the harm in trying a stoner slasher? If the best the sub-genre can do is 4/20 Massacre, there’s no need to light this fire.
Five women go out for a camping trip to celebrate Jess’ (Jamie Bernadette, Killing Joan). Her best friend Aubrey (a solid Vanessa Ross Parker) has ulterior motives as she’s nursing a longtime crush and ready to make her move. Tagging along are their friend Rachel (Justine Waschberger) and her girlfriend Michelle (Marissa Pistone) and Aubrey’s stoner roommate Donna (Stacey Danger).
Along the way to their campground, the women encounter an assortment of odd balls including the eccentric Ranger Rick (Jim Storm), a rabbit hunter and a stoner terrified that a man is coming for him over taking his weed. So naturally the women take the weed even though they’ve received two warnings against it. But all the guys come off like weirdos anyway so it’s understandable why they wouldn’t take them seriously.
Director/Writer Dylan Reynolds doesn’t seem entirely sure which direction he wants to take his film. Does he want to go heavy on the comedy? A stoner love letter to weed as the cure all to all life’s ills? Or a simple don’t go in the woods because there’s a killer on the loose? Reynolds’ attempt to blend all three isn’t entirely successful. The corny 80s soundtrack feels completely out of place and ill-suited for this film.
It takes around the 50 minute mark of the 84 minute film before the killer starts going after the girls while they unwind, chill and smoke. With a few exceptions, Reynolds’ script didn’t do enough to get me invested in the characters, which felt odd given the effort spent fleshing them out.
4/20 Massacre features way too many long, drawn out stop and talk scenes and very little massacring. While there’s a lot of problems with this script, Reynolds does work in one very thoughtful scene, but it’s a rarity in an otherwise unmemorable script.
Just when it seems like Reynolds is going to go against the slasher genre norms, he starts checking off all the cliche boxes. With a main cast of five women it’s a puzzling choice that Reynolds made all of them act like typical horror movie teen girls.
The killer is wearing a ghillie suit, which makes him one of the least intimidating and scary slasher villains. With this outfit there wasn’t a lot Reynolds could do to make him frightening, but the killer is often running around in full view. That fear factor is absent when the jump out points are obvious. Hey…what’s this bush doing here?
The daytime setting doesn’t help at all as either. Budget limitations likely prevented Reynolds from shooting the film at night where the killer’s movements weren’t so obvious.
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Some of the death scenes are questionable in the sense that there was no need to try it if it looks like that while others were impressive for a lower budget horror film.
4/20 Massacre’s biggest asset is Bernadette. She really comes off like a star and elevates the quality of the material from her delivery and presence in the action sequences. Had Reynolds gotten to the killing sooner, he could have better utilized Bernadette to play the survival leader to keep her pals alive. Instead, the pacing makes for a very rushed final act.
Hardcore slasher fans might like this one more than me as I never fully got into the world Reynolds was creating. With better pacing and a less obvious presentation of the killer, this could have been far more memorable. Skip the puff and just pass on this if you’re not a devoted slasher fan.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Photo Credit: October Coast