4/20 MASSACRE *** USA 2018 Dir: Dylan Reynolds 85 mins
Writer-editor-director Dylan Reynolds has crafted an uncommonly likeable indie slasher film based around the eponymous annual celebration of Weed. A quintet of young female campers in the woods celebrate the birthday of Jess (Jamie Bernadette) and inevitably fail to heed the warnings of a foreboding forest ranger (“stick to the trail…”) before being stalked by someone apparently keen to cover up an elaborate local Mary Jane business.
Reynolds deftly overcomes the usual limitations of both stoner comedies and low-budget slashers by taking time and care to develop three-dimensional, sympathetic characters without stinting on inventively gory kill scenes (notably a show-stopping bong-death). It’s not afraid of relatively lengthy dialogue scenes, pulling off an affecting unrequited love story between two characters, and showcasing refreshingly naturalistic performances from the female dominated cast, including Stacey Danger as a loveable stoner who offers a break down of all the bad shit that has happened on 4/20 – from Waco to Columbine – and concludes the sensible way forward is to just get high. Unfolding entirely in daylight and punctuated with above-average splatter FX, it amusingly side-lines the male characters (who exist to be the brunt of the girls’ sarcasm or just to be swiftly offed), has fun with horror tropes and gives us a final girl truly worth rooting for.
Review by Steven West