The Redwood Massacre (Review)

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THE REDWOOD MASSACRE

Firstly I would like to say thankyou to both Producer, Lorraine Keith and Director, David Ryan Keith for allowing me to view a screener of their new indie slasher film “The Redwood Massacre”. It’s filmmakers like you that allow me to keep my blog up and running and keep the viewers reading. The Redwood Massacre is a typical 80’s style slasher fare about 5 friends that are heading out on that all to familiar camping trip in the woods. This time it’s to visit The Redwood House, the murder site of a local legend. Little do the group know that someone still haunts the woods and is out for their blood! The film stars Mark Wood, Lisa Cameron, Lisa Livingston, Rebecca Wilkie, Adam Coutts and Lee Hutcheon.

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THE GOOD

Well there are plenty of things to like about Keith’s Redwood Massacre, The quality in the production value is the first real standout. With an estimated budget of just 150,000 pounds, this looks exquisite. The cinematography and editing is fantastic and David makes perfect use of the location and it’s surroundings. The intro score was wonderful, it sounded like something right out of a Tobe Hooper film. The audio levels and smooth camera work are amongst some of the best technical work I have seen in the horror genre this year. At no stage does anything become to shaky or experimental, it’s all very concentrated and professional work. The acting from most of the cast is generally pretty good. I found the emotionally driven scenes to have much more substance then some of the general chit-chat dialogue. That’s pretty rare given that most performances feel forced when the actors really have to “act”. Lisa Cameron’s performance became a little bit tedious in the second half of the film but more because the character was quiet annoying (obviously written that way), so in a way I suppose she did her job (haha).

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The Killers mask (I never caught his name, if he even had one??), although not very original still look super cool. Anytime you can’t see an actors face the character convey’s that little bit more doom and gloom and in the situation this group finds themselves in that really works. The two best aspects of The Redwood Massacre are the back story surrounding the legend and the films blood and gore effects. David must have read the handbook on Slashers 101 and I commend him for that. It’s key that you have at least one or two kills in the opening 15 minutes of your film because it gets the audience involved nice and early. A lot of slasher films these days are waiting for that body count and trying to give the viewers that extra bit of suspense but it comes at the cost of not delivering on what everyone paid to see. I’m happy to say that within 12 minutes David delivers with some action sequences (if you don’t count the opening scene, that is). The red stuff continues to flow consistently throughout the film’s 82 minute running time and it’s great!

THE BAD

Overall there isn’t much wrong with The Redwood Massacre and the things that I did pick up on were mostly small. Obviously ignore the fact that this thing can’t be passed off as overly original in design or execution but at the same time it’s not trying to be, it’s a slasher and we all know what we are in for. However, the characters lack any real personality. It’s normally those standout traits they possess that make them either loveable and you root for them to survive or on the other side of the spectrum you hope for their untimely demise because they are horrible. Our group of five don’t really project much and therefore it’s difficult to care about any of them. I suppose in a film like this it still works for you as a viewer if you want them to die (haha). I thought the way they were all supposed to be friends was a bit of a stretch too. I don’t know many friendships where the dynamics are the same as they were with this group. The fact that most of the film only has one guy was a little odd as well. I didn’t realise the english accents were going to be so strong and it definitely sneaks up on you. Most people would be expecting this to be an American horror film when it opens up but, alas.

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The suspense missed the mark a little bit in a few scenes. The opportunity to build a kill sequence with some creepy music and sound effects wasn’t taken. Jess’s painted on eyebrows ( I don’t know if they were though haha), whatever those things were they were awfully distracting. I hope to god those are not her real eyebrows! the poor girl. There are a few errors in continuity and such throughout the film. A few of them include the stranger that appears early on in the film and then without explanation is there towards the end. I think some sort of connection needed to be made earlier on. There is an editing problem in one scene where the killer is right near one of the victims and then next minute she has been able to hide with literally one second to spare, not sure what happened there??. The writers missed an opportunity to incorporate a scene that would lead to the capture of Jessica and Mark (I think it is?) and the scene ends up feeling cut and pasted.

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The Redwood Massacre aside from a few small issues is one of the best slasher film’s this year. Given the small amount of experience and somewhat of a low-budget, the cast and crew make the most of what they have. The only thing stopping this from being the best indie slasher of the year was that there was clearly a budget allowed for blood and gore but no time and effort was spent on prosthetic pieces for the wounds and that would have just created more authenticity to go with the realistic blood and gore, maybe next time! The Redwood Massacre epitomizes the 80’s slasher and just adds a dollop more of the red stuff into the mix making it better than the 80’s!

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I just ordered David’s first film “Attack Of The Herbals” which I will have a review for soon. Be sure to support this film and check out the trailer and Imdb page at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3242756/?ref_=nv_sr_1

My rating for “The Redwood Massacre” is 7/10

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19 thoughts on “The Redwood Massacre (Review)

  1. That’s a great review! You’re a very good writer, I have read some of your other stuff and my compliments, no beating around the bush. I will look for your reviews on other things I’m interested in! Thanks 😀

    • Thank you very much Sylvia incredibly humbled by the response from movie-goers and people who take an interest in reviews. I’m glad you like my writing style and I do my best to cover everything related to the film, without spoilers of course :P. I find to many so called critics just gloss over the film and beat around the bush and you don’t end up learning anything about it. Thanks again!!

      Adam

  2. This is one of the worst horror movie I have ever seen. It was extremely poorely directed. Everything in the film was ”Below-Average”.
    In nutshell, a pathetic film to watch.
    After about half of the film, I was waiting eagerly for the movie to END….

    • Firstly, you spelt Poorly incorrectly. That’s your opinion I don’t know how deep your knowledge of slasher films goes, but by your comment’s I’d say not that deep. Otherwise you would know the technical aspects are solid, the blood/gore and effects is impressive given the budget and the acting is mostly decent. If your looking for more from a film of this genre, I suggest you watch something else. It’s a $40,000 film, put it into perspective.

      • I cannot agree with any of this. While the camera work is technically competent in so much as the camera doesn’t bob unnecessarily, the camera awkwardly jumps between characters during dialogue. It almost never frames more than one character at a time, particularly when the characters are talking.

        The dialogue is also stale and awkward, and the actor’s delivery is stilted, as if they are just waiting for the opportunity to say their lines instead of having any natural flow.

        The sound is the more impressive aspect of this film, but they overuse the stabbing sound effect–seriously, watch it again…it is just the one stabbing sound effect–to comical effect.

        The kills are mostly the masked killer lazily swinging an axe into someone’s back which goved way entirely too easily. An axe would get stuck on a rib or on the spine, or at least give a satisfying crunch instead of being just a blood bag. Speaking of, the blood is entirely too viscous. This is just another plodding silent stalker. The filmmakers really missed an opportunity to make a more kinetically dynamic antagonist, but lazily rehash Jason or Michael Myers, but kudos for borrowing the Scarecrow’s mask from Batman Begins.

        In summation, this film fails on pretty much every front. It isn’t enjoyable on its own merit as a good film, and isn’t even entertaining in a Birdemic sort of way. It is just a bad film. How deep is YOUR knowledge of slasher films, because holding this up as the pinnacle of slashers in a long time does not reflect favourably on you as a horror reviewer.

      • All Good Mike, you don’t have to agree mate that’s the beautiful thing about an opinion. You’re quite right the camera does sometimes awkwardly jump (well technically no you’re not), because it’s rushed editing, it more or less has nothing to do with the camera work, but fair enough. Framing one character at a time is often done in low-budget indie films, it makes it easier to edit sound and also a lot of first time or inexperienced Directors want to keep it simple. A lot of the dialogue is very plain and nothing much of importance gets said, yes the acting and some of the chemistry between the cast isn’t the greatest (upon having just re-watched it only a couple of weeks ago) This review is from nearly 12 months ago. Keep in mind these are friends and actors/actresses with little to no experience, that’s not something you want to get hung up on otherwise you will find yourself disliking most indie slasher flicks.

        Yes the stabbing effect is a little mundane and overused but I’ve spoken a lot with David Keith (Director), over the journey and this was all he really had at his disposal, given the time frame and budget. It’s an incredibly low-budget film that everyone was working on for the love it and he’s even stated several times that he wasn’t trying to make anything special or original or iconic. He was just making something in the genre that resembled those types of films you’ve mentioned and it does just that. By the way the mask might be inspired by Batman but it’s not the same. The Scarecrow’s wore like a wheat bag, the killer’s mask in Redwood is a laced up, mouth piece sown version of that. Also masks aren’t another facet of the genre that you want to go reading into all that much, or looking for fresh new ideas because there are none unfortunately. Ever since the first shot on video slasher flicks hit the market everything has been done to death, maybe you need a genre change for a while until they are able to reinvent something to your liking or give you something new. It’s cool you’ve got your opinion and I’ve got mine, I re-valued the film after having re-watched it nine or 10 months on and I would alter might rating back down to a 5.5 or 6 out of 10, but you always do that the next time you watch something. I look at every fact and low-budget films are incredibly difficult to work on and try to make a success. I can count the number of truly awesome micro-budget slasher films on one hand. I own well over a thousand slasher films and like to think I’ve learnt a thing or two along the way having been part of a few projects in one way or another. Sorry if you read it as me saying the pinnacle of slashers, it’s far from that I just stated its formulaic but it’s a formula most of us know and love, I give it credit for that.

        Thanks for checking out my review none the less, the more readers the better!

        Cheers

  3. I’m currently watching this film and going to review it soon on my blog too! I agree with most your points too. I love the overspill of blood in this movie and wish there was more deep wounds and prosthetics to add to it. I just need to say that they aren’t English though, they’re Scottish. Which as a fellow Scot kinda made it a bit comical for me and I also thought this was going to be an American Friday the 13th style horror. Overall I’m really enjoying this movie and Jessica’s eyebrows were annoying me from the beginning haha. The actors have put a lot of effort in which I think really shows although I do agree that their personalities didn’t really shine. I think I would probably give this a 6/7 out of 10.

    Great review. Stumbled upon your site via IMDb. Glad I did. I will definitely be subscribing!

    RebeccaJane
    http://PocahontasJane.wordpress.com

    • Thanks a lot Rebecca! I always like to hear from new people who’ve stumbled upon my site. Yes I should really change the point to Scottish and not English, my bad (haha).
      David Ryan Keith has a great grasp of the technical aspects, which make it a very easy watch. I’m glad you could see merit in the points I made about the film, I hope you enjoy
      the rest of it! and keep an eye out for new reviews 🙂

  4. I watched the movie and liked it very much, right down to the campy and cliche blood and Gore. I do believe I read somewhere that that is what they were going for, a kind of 80’s era hacker slasher movie. I say spot on, especially for being low low budget and done with unknowns and friends. Also the guy who said the mask was taken from bat man begins, WRONG, it was actually designed and hand made by Grim stitch factory, you can pick one up for about$300.

  5. Are you retarded, this was the stupidest shit I’ve ever seen. All the blood on the girl from the above picture is suppose to be her own from being punched in the face. Her nose and teeth all in tact anyone who’s been in a fight or watched a boxing match has gotta call bullshit. Plus why didn’t the guy with the shotgun just shoot him and spare me another half hour of this stupid shit

    • You are quite correct on a couple of points Bob, albeit asking if I’m mentally challenged and raising it in the way you have shows an immature approach to it all. No I’m not “Retarted” as you put it, I enjoyed the film to an extent, it’s by no means a perfect film that’s why it’s just my opinion. It has continuity issues you’re spot on there but somethings can be looked past (at least in my opinion) when dealing with a low budget production and cast and crew with varying degrees of experience, having seen first hand working on a short film of my own you can gain a better understanding of what goes into the process and how and why things get missed. Encase you hadn’t thought of it there’s a thing on the Dvd player called an eject button, I probably would’ve just done that mate and saved yourself that time you speak of rather than watching the rest being dissapointed and coming on here to rag on it…. just a thought.

      Cheers

  6. “Her nose and teeth all in tact anyone who’s been in a fight or watched a boxing match has gotta call bullshit” Bob you do realise this is a movie lol. We would have loved to have had a make-up artist and Prosthetists but we just didn’t have the money, how else would you have liked us to do it? I’m not sure the actor would be happy for us to beat her half to death for real.

  7. I liked your review (and others) and made me want to watch it but thus was a terrible movie. The pace of the story was so slow and the cuts seemed a bit off like the kills were happening in another place compared to the reaction of those getting killed. The killer was nothing unique. It’s a great lesson in what not to do when I make my next movie.

    • Hey Chris,

      I really appreciate the support for the site and I’m glad you’re enjoying checking out my reviews, it’s great to know someone out there is having a read (haha). Each to his own in regards to this film,
      I’ve actually since watched it a couple more times and although I’m lenient with low-budget Horror/Slashers (due to my love of the genre and soft spot for them) I can acknowledge some of those points you made.
      If I was to sit down and re analyze and re-review this film would probably only be worth a 5 or 5.5 from me. Some of the issues are budget related but some are also just things to be learnt from.

      Cheers

  8. I think you should watch Cut (2014) If you have not already I would like to see your perspective on that. In regards to this movie? It was what I was looking for, a different horror movie that is based upon a true story. Indie slashers like this are interesting to see for a few good reasons. One is because, not many of them have the same over-paid actors/actresses. Its nice to see fresh faces. Of course that was not to berate any of those famous (Though over paid as they are) Second, its one of those films that does not focus on just one thing such as, body count, or blood. As you’ve stated, its a film that has a budget. A lot of people whom have no respect for the classic slasher genre just want the best bloody scenes they can get. So just because her teeth were in tact, does not make this a bad film, its a movie for a reason. Thirdly, it keeps the viewer interested and always makes my hair stand on edge when I’m out camping and hear the bushes rustle. Great review, I admire your points, glad I found this blog. 🙂

    • Hey Chad!

      What a legend you are my friend! made my day, getting this wonderful feedback and positive comments. Likewise, I am glad you found my website because I’m always interested to hear from new
      readers and the reasons they think whatever it is they do about film (not just this movie but film in general). Cut (sounds familiar but not so much so that I think that I’ve seen it). I will do my best to track it down and
      give it a spin. As you say these types of movies can be a lot of fun if you know what you’re in for and what the film makers intentions were. I had a new found appreciation for the people who
      come together to make a movie happen, it’s a lot of time, money and effort put in by a collective and so people’s negative comments (if only for venting sake), have no constructive element to them
      than that’s harsh and not what someone needs to hear. Once again, thanks for checking out the site and be sure to stay tuned in because there’s usually a review a week or at most two weeks!

      Cheers

      Adamthemoviegod

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