A group of people heads off into the woods to track down a deranged killer who, according to urban legend, slaughtered dozens of people a decade ago. Some of them have a direct connection to one of the victims, some are just there for the thrill of the hunt. One of them is there for a much darker purpose.
While the basic outline for Redwood Massacre: Annihilation will sound pretty familiar to anyone who watches enough horror movies, writer/director David Ryan Keith, creator of the original Redwood Massacre in 2014, adds such a huge twist to the start of the story that nothing that follows feels familiar at all. Under Keith, there’s no guessing game as to who is the bad one in the bunch as they head off into the woods. We already know who it is and just how sick and twisted they are. It’s a waiting game to see when they will start revealing themselves to the other four, and it cranks the tension up to 11 long before the big guy in the burlap mask starts hacking people apart.
Like a lot of these “walk into the woods” horror movies, the first chunk of Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is spent letting the audience get to know the characters and their connection to the killer. Danielle Harris (Rob Zombie’s Halloween) is Laura Dempsey, the sister of one of the possible victims, and Jon Camping (Invasion Planet Earth) is her dad, Tom. Gary Kasper (A Dark Foe) is Gus, the big gun-toting friend of the family, and Tevy Poe (What Love Looks like) is Jen, the ass-kicking eye-candy. Damien Puckler (Death Factory) is Max, the serial killer superfan one who convinced them all to get together to go monster hunting in the first place. Although their introductions don’t amount to much more than that, it’s enough to set the stage, especially since we get to watch the bad one act like a good one.
After walking through the woods for a day or two, getting to know each other, the group discovers a hidden underground military/medical facility in the middle of an otherwise empty field, as groups of serial killer hunters walking through the woods in horror movies are wont to do. Naturally, they climb down the stairs to the spooky lab, and the real action of Redwood Massacre: Annihilation begins. And that’s not necessarily a good thing, because the inventive twist that’s added so many unexpected layers of tension up to that point gets tossed aside for some generic serial killer stuff. The killer in the burlap scarecrow mask hacks a few people apart. The big secret is revealed to the still-living members of the group, a huge letdown because it feels so anticlimactic.
Eventually, the surviving good guys band together and find a way to save the day. It’s all filmed and acted fairly well, but except for a gross gag involving a body part in a glass jar, it’s all weighed down with a sense that it’s all been seen before. There are no real scares, no shocking gore, no gruesome kills that will stick with you very long after the movie ends. And that’s too bad. Because it starts so strong and ultimately doesn’t deliver the same level of intensity at the end, Redwood Massacre: Annihilation ends up being a disappointment.
- John Black, Redwood Massacre: Annihilation