REDWOOD MASSACRE: ANNIHILATION * USA 2020 Dir: David Ryan Keith. 104 mins
Shot in Scotland, this is British filmmaker David Ryan Keith’s American-styled sequel to his 2014 slasher flick THE REDWOOD MASSACRE. Ten years after the original events, author Jon Campling, whose absurd manbun is the most entertaining thing about the film, travels with his badass daughter (Danielle Harris) to the woodland location of the earlier unsolved murders. Max (the grating Damien Puckler), a Redwood fanboy with mommy and daddy issues, follows suit, obsessed with finding the killer himself. The audience knows his fixation with the murders extends to nailing women to chairs and raping their corpses.
Although the Redwood killer himself, clad in a derivative but effectively creepy burlap sack, looks the part while pulling off heads, his presence is almost incidental as everyone spends an inordinate amount of time meandering around an old abandoned, underground RAF base at the far end of the forest. Unlikeable characters, including a laughable gun-kissing bit of “muscle” played by Gary Kasper, speak in vapid comic book speech bubbles (“This shit just got real!”) and find body parts in jars (“That’s a human eyeball!” / “That’s a human dick!”). Stephanie Lynn Styles shows up as the survivor of the earlier massacre, her lips more expressive than the rest of her (eerily frozen) face. Too much screen time is given to Max, who talks way too much while running his oversized blades over the breasts and crotches of female characters.
ANNIHILATION commits the cardinal slasher movie crime of being genuinely dull – and goes on forever. Harris’ climactic transformation into a low-rent Buffy is telegraphed by an early gym training sequence, but the actress battles in vain against poor kiss-off lines and a one-note character. The cynical ending, meant to shock, feels like a dated call back to all those dour American horror films of the early 2000s, setting up a wider conspiracy at work while showing contempt for the audience who made it this far. Someone forgot to order some fun.
Review by Steven West