WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) -
So when it comes to the greater art of cinema, there’s an anomaly that occurs when a filmmaker makes a film that is so bad that it actually slides into fun territory. The genre where this occurs most often is the horror genre. On many of those occasions, filmmakers embrace the fact that they aren’t making high art and dive headfirst into their schlock, creating very fun and campy cult hits that garner repeated watching. The cinematic great, White Whale where it’s so bad it’s good. Well, sadly, Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is not that type of movie.
Full disclosure, when I agreed to watch this film and review it, I had no idea that it was actually a sequel to a movie released in 2014 simply titled, The Redwood Massacre. Not that it really mattered when it was all said and done. I find it extremely hard to believe that anything that occurred in the first would somehow shine its follow up in a more favorable light. Not to mention that most of what obviously occurred in the first film is touched upon through discussion points in the first ten or fifteen so minutes of, Annihilation. However, it is also worth noting that other then the masked killer who chopped up unsuspecting campers/thrill seekers in the original and the final girl, Pamela, (whom they couldn’t even get the original actress to reprise the role and kill off in the first scene of the movie) there are NO returning characters to the film... making the original unnecessary when it comes to viewing this Redwood Massacre.
Annihilation, takes place an undetermined amount of years after the original massacre. With the legend of a masked killer stalking the wilderness and disappearances building with no other real explanations, we are introduced to, Max, a psycho obsessed with the infamous killer and engaged in a hunt to locate him. Why? To become his pupil, of course! We soon learn that, Max, isn’t the only one that is still looking for the fabled killer as we meet, Tom Dempsey, the father of a victim from the first film who has written a book theorizing the Redwood killers existence. Max pursues and convinces, Tom, that despite their individual failures at finding proof of the killer, he has new information and evidence that will lead them to his lair. Reinvigorated by this, Tom, then persuades his reluctant daughter to join them for one last crack at finding the reclusive killer.
From here on out, Annihilation, becomes a paint-by-numbers rehash of countless horror films with seemingly comparable plots that lead to the inevitable encounter with said killer. Along the way we add monster hunters, Gus and Jen, who just kind of show up with minimal explanation for Tom’s one last ride, before the quintet roll into an abandoned government facility that might hold answers. The killer is revealed, mayhem ensues, yada, yada, yada. Honestly, there isn’t a lot that happens that you couldn’t already see coming a mile off and the few things that do are more a result of ambiguous storytelling, questionable logic and plot holes that aren’t ever resolved.
Aside from the affable, Gus, (played by a very game, Gary Casper) the cast doesn’t do much to hold the mess together. I was even disappointed by the “biggest name” of the ensemble, Danielle Harris, (playing Tom’s daughter, Laura) who is a horror veteran, but falls way short with a feeble attempt at a stereotypical, Sarah Conner type final girl. I’d like to give the actors a pass due to what I perceive as poor character development, but there are many moments throughout that never really resonate... especially with, Max, who while billed as a 2nd villain early on, doesn’t have nearly enough charisma or menace to pull off the act.
I think the main problem is that for a movie that just isn’t very scary, it takes itself way too seriously. The filmmakers just don’t do enough to build up any real dread or tension. It kind of feels like a haunted house where you know there aren’t any live actors milling around to scare you. The coup de grace is that the killer is just plain bland. Even the kills, which can usually add an element of fun to
the experience, just feel uninspired and boring. I understand that with a movie title, Redwood Massacre: Annihilation, the audience for this type of film is already limited to the horror enthusiasts or curious thrill seekers looking for a joy ride. I didn’t have a particularly good time watching it and wouldn’t recommend you doing so unless you are gathering a group of friends to subject it to your very own, Mystery Science Theater 3000 experience. This dud gets 1 out of 5 stars.
If you don’t believe me and have some time to kill, (and at a tortuous 1h 44 minute run time, it’s time you won’t get back) Redwood Massacre: Annihilation, is available to stream now on Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and other similar streaming platforms.