DreadWorld Review: The Redwood Massacre (2015)

Ahhh Scotland...you've brought us two out of the last three "Doctors," the comedic genius that is Craig Ferguson, Groundskeeper Willie, and the Loch Ness Monster. Needless to say that Scotland as a country has more than held it's own in awesomeness. But what about horror? The latest Scot foray into the genre, The Redwood Massacre, seeks to plant it's flag in a genre that's been dominated over the years by it's American counterparts, namely, the stalk and slash/torture porn genre. Does The Redwood Massacre carve it's own little niche into the bark that is the horror tree, or is it simply a pale imitation of those films that have preceded it?

The film begins, like all good slasher films should begin - with a group of idiot twenty somethings lost in the woods. These particular twenty somethings are meeting up with each other to go camping in a house where a bunch of brutal murders happened decades before. The first thought that comes to mind is - Do people really do this? You would think that the anniversary of a brutal series of murders would be WORST time to inhabit - even temporarily, one of these places. Still, they hare hell bent on doing so. They don;t even make it to the first nights campsite, let alone the house, before they start becoming cannon fodder our killer.

Writer/Director David Ryan Keith doesn't really seem to know what type of film he wants to make. Half the film, the superior half, is a cookie cutter stalk and slash, menacing dude chasing the "final girl," the other half tries to be a "torture porn" film - but fails miserably in building any of the necessary tension to do so. Let's start at the end, because that what it seems Keith did. He finishes the film with some great stalk and slash moments. Sure, most are cribbed from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, among other films. But at least (for the most part) they are coherent and there is a building sense of dread and tension.

Keith has created a killer with very little backstory, or at least one that is not really dwelt upon narrative wise. The mask is sufficiently creepy, if a little derivative of films like The Town That Dreaded Sundown on Friday the 13th 2 and 3. His killer is a menace, to the point of being uncomfortably powerful, and herein lies the problem with Keiths masked maniac. It's uncomfortable to watch him punch our protagonist in the face - which is fine. these films are supposed to make the watcher uncomfortable, that's what they are made for. The issue isn't the punching, although some will have an issue with the misogyny involved, the issue really is the fact that while the killer is punching here the audience is wondering why he doesn't just grab her and choke her or snap her neck, something that this imposing killer is more than capable of. That being said, the last twenty minutes of the film are perfectly acceptable as an exercise where you shut your brain off and enjoy a good slasher film.

The same cannot be said of the first half of the film. Two of our would be campers are absconded in the middle of the night. We don't see it, but we know it happened. It's like Keith forgot to film it and thought no one would notice. Even if we take the leap and just deal with the fact that the missing people were taken under cover of darkness the question remains, other than to show some cool practical effects, why would the killer leave them alive. We see him time and time again just slash his way through any part of humanity her happens to get his hands on. What's the reason in the development of the narrative for the killer to leave these particular people alive to torture. No reason is given, and like I stated above, it's painfully obvious that Keith just used the captive/torture device to showcase the special effects of the film. While those special effects are pretty impressive, it's a shame that the film suffers because of the need to showcase them.

Now before you start to think that The Redwood Massacre is complete pile of shit, realize that the last act of the film is pretty good. The gore and blood, although a little dark for me, was also well executed and should satiate most of the gore hounds out there. Even the acting, particularly from the "final girl" is above average for and independent slasher film. The only quibble with the cast would be those eye brows...frankly you should watch the film as a class on how "not" to draw on your eye brows (and frankly you should never draw you eye brows on anyway).

The Redwood Massacre is at it's best a paint by numbers slasher film. At it's worst it's a confusing, nonsensical pandering mess. Check it out for the last twenty minutes, some decent gore, and some of the worst penciled in eyebrows you will ever see. The Redwood Massacre is slated to hit DVD/VOD on July the 7th.

** stars out of *****

That's all for me. As always, thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."

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