The Redwood Massacre Movie Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
DVD released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Written and directed by David Ryan Keith
2014, Region 1 (NTSC), 82 minutes, Rated R
Released on July 7th, 2015
Lisa Cameron ad Pamela
Mark Wood as Bruce
Lisa Livingstone as Kirsty
Rebecca Wilkie as Jessica
Adam Coutts as Mark
When you put on a horror movie and see campers entering the woods for a weekend of partying, you know what to expect – a bloodbath. Usually blood is shed within the first few scenes of a slasher flick, if not before the opening credits. An element that differs in slasher films is the motive. Usually the reasoning is some sort of misguided vengeance, but in The Redwood Massacre, as in several films of the subgenre, there is a gaping hole in the center of the killer's purpose.
The Redwood Massacre follows five forgettable (and grouchy) characters seeking the Redwood House, a murder site from twenty years prior. Over the years, the place has been known for its annual party, where youngsters gather to get wasted and scare the shit out of each other. This weekend happens to be the 20th anniversary of the grizzly killings, and the party is on (though you never actually see a party). Go figure. Barely breaking the ice, there seems to be interrelationships between several characters, but ultimately it did not affect my feelings towards them or the outcome of the film. Pamela is the goody two-shoe protagonist; Bruce is her bike-riding love interest; Kristy is the annoying 'diva' of the group; her boyfriend Mark is a pushover; and his ex-girlfriend Jessica is a free-spirited party girl. But why is the killer hunting them?
One major problem with the movie is a lack of depth and characterization of the killer. All viewers are informed about the guy with a burlap sack on his head, as he is an evil farmer (or the son of one?) who killed his wife and kids, then followed suit by taking his own life. Apparently, the psycho farmer's son was buried, but the body turned up missing, hence him coming back from the dead and creeping around in the woods. So according to the plot logic, the evil farmer's son is the killer, though it is never fleshed out who exactly the killer really is. What I gather, the original killer was the father, but the present killer is the son. I think… Things get too confusing, and not in a surrealistic, cerebral and abstract kind of way.
According to IMDB, the budget for The Redwood Massacre was $50,000, and the filmmakers stretched it to its limits. The woodsy and mountainous shots add to the eerie setting. There are numerous scenes where tension is present, but low due to not caring for these characters. If you like blood and gore, the special effects team did a damn good job of letting the blood spill. Although I couldn't stop laughing every time the killer punched someone in the face and tons of blood erupted like an artery was cut, I can let that slide. Something that did irk me is whether a knife or an axe, the stabbing sound effect is exactly the same. On the contrary, the score is solid and adds to the tension at points, but that alone can't pull the movie from the mud. Director and writer David Ryan Keith is aware of the elements of a slasher, and presents us with old-fashioned scenes of carnage.
The Redwood Massacre has potential, and for a low-budget slasher is not terrible. When creating a slasher film, try and be unique and add substance or a new idea to the genre – which is not an easy task. If time is of essence, the final payoff is not worth the investment watching The Redwood Massacre. If you enjoy blood being spilled by an axe-wielding maniac for no apparent reason, then give this a viewing, you'll probably enjoy it. Otherwise, you are not missing out on anything special. Save this one for the middle of the night, because the movie can at least cure boredom.