Six years on from 2014’s The Redwood Massacre, the Burlap Killer returns to terrorise a new audience at this year’s Frightfest in Redwood Massacre: Annihilation.
A stranger obsessed with the unsolved Redwood murders convinces a group of bereaved family members to venture into the wilderness in hope of proving the existence of the infamous killer. Their quest for truth sees a sinister turn of events. A blood-soaked fight for survival ensues when they find that the tales told of the axe-wielding manic are very real.
Writer-director David Ryan Keith doubles down on all aspects of production in an attempt to deliver a sequel that is better than the original. Whilst also creating a different beast to the straight stalk ‘n’ slash nature of the first movie.
For a start, they have managed to attract Danielle Harris. Star of the Halloween and Hatchet franchises. She plays Laura, the sister of someone who went missing in the Redwood area and helps lead the expedition into the mysterious underground base in search for answers.
The base itself is a wonderful location that through excellent lighting and cinematography generates an unnerving and intense atmosphere. By switching the location from the woods to the base, it allows the franchise to avoid repeating itself and move in a new direction.
It seeks to expand the mythos behind the killer, hinting at unexpected origins. Scenes of experimentation and torture within the hidden lair, suggest the move from slasher to Hostel-esque torture porn. With suitably improved practical effects to boot.
That being said, at times it does struggle to shake off its slasher origins. As soon as the group arrive at the location, they immediately split up. Increasing their chances of meeting a grisly end… particularly given one member of the party is not what they seem.
Of the group, the standouts are Harris as the independent and strong-willed Laura and Jon Campling as her estranged father. Both provide much needed gravitas to the schlocky proceedings.
Despite a sleek runtime of 94 minutes, beyond the odd flash of gore, the film takes too long before the killing begins. Eschewing gore for atmosphere. An admirable move but one that fails to satiate the audience’s blood lust.
As a result, the blood flows thick and fast in a frantic and frenzied conclusion. One that comes too late for Redwood Massacre: Annihilation to make the desired impact but leaves room for a further installment in the franchise.
Director: David Ryan Keith
Stars: Danielle Harris, Damien Puckler, Jon Campling, Gary Kasper
Runtime: 94 minutes