Sometimes in horror films it can be hard to know who the real psychopaths are. Here in The Redwood Massacre we learn about a farmer who went mad and killed his wife and daughter, unless he didn’t. And our main characters’ reaction to that is to visit the house it supposedly occurred in on the tenth anniversary of the murder, because they anticipate one of those horror-movie parties with booze and drugs and sex. At least when the teens in Friday the 13th visited Camp Crystal Lake on the anniversary of Jason’s death, it was an unhappy coincidence. They weren’t celebrating a death. I’m not saying that young men and women who have so little respect for tragic occurrences deserve to die, but perhaps young men and women who have so little respect for tragic occurrences, and who happen to live in horror movie universes, deserve to die.
Aside from their lack of respect for the dead, the characters commit other grave offenses: they drink heavily, for a start. And they’re constantly splitting up, even when they don’t have the excuse that they’re looking for clues. And they wear stupid T-shirts. And one of them has the most ridiculous eyebrows seen on a film performer since John Waters favourite Divine. Not to mention that none of them can really act, though in fairness it must be hard to convincingly deliver some of the barely-human dialogue here: “I don’t think it’s something you could easily forget, especially when it involves little kids being killed”, says one character. Well, you don’t say. “I knew he killed his kids, but eating his wife? That’s messed up.”
That said, somehow the characters can’t decide whether a crazed farmer did or didn’t kill children or eat wives. Granted, the spooky campfire tale is a staple of camping itself, not just of slasher films, but it’s hard to believe that such brutal and recent murders wouldn’t have been extensively reported on and either confirmed or debunked, especially in rural Scotland. Local papers in rural Scotland report on things like new stop signs going up. A murder would be front-page news every day for a year. And since the characters carry mobiles, then clearly they live in a Google age.
Not that it matters much; even if they don’t realise that they’re characters in a horror film, the audience knows that they are, so of course there’s something evil in the woods. There’s always something evil in the woods, and here evil takes the form of a not-bad burlap sack mask reminiscent of Dr. Salvador in Resident Evil 4, or the Scarecrow in Batman Begins. Evil carries an axe, and evil lacks even the creativity of, say, the Wrong Turn series. The victims are just axed in the back, one after another. You know how, in a poorly-balanced videogame, sometimes you only actually need one particular attack? And you keep spamming it at your enemies, who just die repetitively until you can’t be bothered playing any more? The life of the masked killer must feel a bit like one of those depressing exercises. You know you’re watching a bad horror film when the violent scenes are the dullest. Even the director must have known: sometimes he can’t even be bothered showing you a death.
Because almost every element of this production was inept, I’ll save some time by quickly listing the things I liked about this film: as I said, the mask was a decent piece of design. The woods were pretty, though the cinematography wasn’t. The production company, Clear Focus, is based in Aberdeen, where I went to uni. And their company logo is quite nice. OK, I think that’s everything.
So what do you think about The Redwood Massacre? Does it stoke your interest or are you going to give it a miss? Whatever it is leave your thoughts below and be sure to visit Christian’s site Mediocre Batman!