The Redwood Massacre is the latest in a small but storied subgenre of horror known as the “baghead slasher.” Other entries include The Town That Dreaded Sundown (both versions), Friday the 13th Part 2, part of the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot, and Malevolence, each worth your while.
How does this one compare?
I’d put it a notch above the reboot and on par with Malevolence, a film that I felt was very underrated when it dropped in limited release and premiered to Anchor Bay DVD way back in 2003.
What makes the film work is the fact that writer-director David Ryan Keith knows exactly why you make a film like this.
You don’t do it for the acting, the dialogue, or the characterization. You do it for the suspense and the kills. In that area, The Redwood Massacre succeeds with flying (crimson) colors.
While Keith’s first feature, Attack of the Herbals, was more of a silly horror comedy, he has upped the tension and the terror here, and it’s a tone I’d like to see him stick with since he pulls it off nicely.
There are definitely some gruesome kills here, especially if you like a little axe to go with your mayhem.
The acting leaves something to be desired. While a lot of low-budget horror flicks have made big stars out of their cast — Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Kevin Bacon — I don’t see any of these players going on to bigger and better things.
Thankfully, Keith is wise to keep the chatter to a minimum, placing his hulking brute center-stage and liberally splashing the red stuff the way we horror fans like it.
(If there is anyone here you’re not particularly fond of, don’t worry, they won’t be around for long.)
The storyline follows five adventurous friends, who decide to visit the legendary murder site of the Redwood House as a weekend getaway. Turning a mass murder into your personal entertainment isn’t exactly a good way to keep a killer legend at bay, and the expected happens as a result.
No new ground is broken, but any time a film tries doing so, it fails more often than it succeeds, so I was fine with the simple, straight-forward telling.
In short, a film like The Redwood Massacre lives or dies by the inventiveness of its stalk-and-slash “heroics,” and this one lives.
The Redwood Massacre dropped on video on demand June 7, so you should be able to catch it now on one of your favorite streaming platforms.
[Image via The Redwood Massacre Facebook Page]