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Redwood Massacre: Annihilation Review

October 29, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Redwood Massacre: Annihilation
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Redwood Massacre: Annihilation Review  

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation Review

Danielle Harris– Laura Dempsey
Damien Puckler– Max
Gary Kasper– Gus
Jon Campling– Tom Dempsey
Tevy Poe– Jen
Benjamin Selway– Burlap Killer
Stephanie Lynn Styles– Donna

Directed by David Ryan Keith
Screenplay by David Ryan Keith

Distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment

Not Rated
Runtime– 104 minutes

Buy it here or here


Warning: this review contains major spoilers

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation, written and directed by David Ryan Keith and now available on DVD and On Demand, is a sequel to the 2014 low budget slasher flick Redwood Massacre, and is one of those horror movies that features a great cast, great atmosphere, a fairly scary masked killer, and generates plenty of goodwill during its roughly 100 minute running time, only to throw it all away in the last minute so it can provide the audience with a totally unnecessary “twist” ending that also sets up a potential third movie. You want to like Annihilation, you want to celebrate it because it does so many good things and so many things right but, in the end, you can’t. The movie destroys itself. And it’s just infuriating. It didn’t have to be that way.

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation stars modern horror icon Danielle Harris as Laura Dempsey, the badass daughter of Tom Dempsey (Jon Campling), the author of a book about a series of strange disappearances that are somehow linked to the masked killer from the first movie (the killer is a big guy that wears a burlap hood and we see him massacre a bunch of people right at the beginning of the movie). One of the missing people is Tom’s daughter/Laura’s sister, and the book and the whole disappearance has been a family issue with them since the disappearance happened. Laura is also pissed that her father has been hanging around with the weird beard Max (Damien Puckler), a guy that came to one of Tom’s book signings and convinced him that it was a good idea to head out into the mega deep forests of Scotland to find the place where the killer might be. Who the hell is Max and why does he have the burlap sack mask of the killer?

The audience knows who Max is. Max is a killer himself who is obsessed with the masked man (he has a mask that looks like the one the killer wears and, we have to assume, it’s a mask directly from the killer. We also see Max torture a woman he has nailed to a chair and stabbed repeatedly while asking her questions about what she knows about the killer). And we also know that Max thinks Tom can somehow lead him to the secret place in the woods where the killer lives. That secret place? An abandoned military installation.

So Laura agrees to tag along with Tom and Max into the woods, but they aren’t going alone. Laura brings along the gigantic badass Gus (Gary Kasper) and the resourceful Jen (Tevy Poe). While making their way through the woods, both Laura and Gus make Max well aware that they’re watching him and they don’t trust him. At all. Max really doesn’t respond to what Laura and Gus tell him, but then Max doesn’t respond much to anything. Max is more interested in getting to the secret military place and finding the killer and seeing him up close. In a weird way it’s like Max is part of a “cult of one” and he needs to see the killer in order to fulfill some sort of personal goal.

Now, the trek through the woods isn’t all that scary, but once they find the military base (it’s under an old house out in the middle of nowhere) the suspense and atmosphere pick up tremendously. The underground base has spotty electricity and it’s full of dead bodies and pieces of dead bodies. It’s like the killer has been doing experiments or something on the bodies of his victims for years. While checking all of this stuff out, Laura and the group manage to lock themselves inside the base and they can’t get out. How the hell did that happen? Is the base designed to do that or did someone deliberately lock them inside? And where the hell did Max go?

It’s at this point in the movie that the killer shows up (the killer is played by Benjamin Selway) and people start dying in horrendously gory ways. Director David Ryan Keith doesn’t shy away from getting nasty and that’s always appreciated in this kind of movie. The various story threads also start to come together. We are also introduced to the mysterious Donna (Stephanie Lynn Styles), a woman who is inside the compound, scared out of her mind, and also crazy as hell. Who the hell is she? Why is she still alive when the killer is walking around the base?

The movie would have worked without Donna. The movie doesn’t need Donna at all. Of course, if it didn’t have Donna the movie wouldn’t be able to pull off its total bullshit ending. Donna is a scientist or some nonsense like that, and it appears as though the killer is part of some bizarre military experiment. Laura and Gus, who you root for throughout the movie, end up both dying after being shot in the head by a soldier that shows up to presumably rescue them from the locked military base. And Laura and Gus both die after we watch them completely destroy the killer (there’s a pretty good “Gus vs. the killer” fight sequence, and then Laura cuts the killer’s head off). What horseshit. What a disappointment.

Now, I’m sure someone out there will say “Well, you should expect the heroes to die in a horror movie. It’s a horror movie!” but that’s just bullshit. Horror movies don’t always need the big twist ending. Horror movies don’t always need the killer to pop up one more time at the end to set up the next movie. Horror movies don’t always need to be fucking depressing and defeating. Sometimes it’s okay to just kill the bad guy and end the movie. If you’re worried about setting up the next movie why not just do that at the beginning of the next one? And what’s wrong with having two characters the audience actually likes and who managed to live through the story show up in the next one? What’s wrong with them getting to fight the bad guy again? David Ryan Keith and the producers must have seen how Danielle Harris and Gary Kasper make for a great on screen duo and that the audience would follow them, along with the killer, into the next movie. Why mess with that? It’s just frustrating as hell.

And the ending doesn’t make me want to see the third movie. The ending doesn’t make me want to follow this franchise at all. The ending makes me wish I could get the almost two hours it took me to watch Redwood Massacre: Annihilation back. Redwood Massacre: Annihilation, as a movie watching experience, is a waste of time. And that sucks.


Danielle Harris does a great job as Laura. She’s a complete badass who can clearly handle herself in a hand-to-hand brawl and isn’t someone you’re going to scare or push around. After watching her train in martial arts and whatnot at the beginning of the movie you wait for the sequence (because you know it’s coming) where she kicks someone’s ass. Is it going to be Max? Is it going to be the killer? It could be anyone! Had Laura lived into the next movie she could have kicked even more ass. Hopefully, for Harris, this movie is the start of her full on “action hero in the horror movie world” part of her career. She can do it, do it well, and it’s awesome to see her beat the crap out of someone.


Gary Kasper is phenomenal as Gus. He’s a big guy, sure, and could probably kill you with one punch, but he’s also funny and warm and you like him. He has tremendous chemistry with both Harris and Tevy Poe (their deep personal conversation is one of the highlights of the movie) and I think his performance here should bring him more and bigger movies in the future. I also think it’s cool how Gus brought so many weapons with him into the woods. A movie with a bigger budget would have no doubt had the big ass gun Gus brought with him play an even bigger part in the movie’s final sequence. You just don’t see that kind of thing in these kinds of movies.

Damien Puckler is quite the douchebag as Max. Puckler manages to keep Max mysterious even when you know what he’s sort of up to. Because what the hell is his deal anyway? Why devote your life to a killer like the burlap masked guy? And what the fuck is going on with the whole “sex with a recently dead body” sequence? Holy shit that’s messed up. I would have liked to see a bloodier end for Max, but I’m satisfied with what we get.

Jon Campling does a good job as Tom the author. He gives off the right kind of professorial vibe throughout the movie. You know as soon as you see him he’s going to die as he’s no match for anyone but you’re still sad when he gets destroyed by the burlap mask killer. I do question, though, if he would actually venture into the woods to go find a secret abandoned military base, even with a band of ass kickers like Laura and Gus. Would a guy like Tom really do that? Tevy Poe also does a good job as Jen. She doesn’t come off as someone who should be venturing into the woods, either, but she manages to survive longer than you think she will.


And Benjamin Selway does a fine job as the killer. He also apparently played the killer in the first movie. He’s big, he’s intimidating, and he knows how to make the most of the burlap mask (it looks like some sort of giant foam thing). Why doesn’t this killer have a name? I would accept Burlap Head or something like that. Shouldn’t a killer like this have an actual name?

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is a slasher flick that I wanted to like. It has so much going for it. But it decided to throw it all away at the end with a shitbag of an ending. That’s just unacceptable and infuriating. Goddammit.

Only check out Redwood Massacre: Annihilation if you’re a Danielle Harris completist or if you’re one of those people that needs to see every slasher movie ever made or if you’re one of those people who like to be let down and depressed as all fuck at the end of a movie. If you’re not one of those kinds of people, avoid Redwood Massacre: Annihilation. It’s just not worth your time.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 20.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: Yes. It’s disturbing.

Doobage: An onscreen definition of the word “massacre,” a hallway filled with people screaming and multiple dead bodies, off screen knife through the head, a woman pulls herself out of a cage, serious gut stabbing, throat slashing, a map, serious chair bondage, thumb licking, more gut stabbing, book signing, a weird house meeting, kickboxing training, a wicked punch to the face, necrophilia, off screen throat cutting, more serious chair bondage, more throat slitting, stream crossing, a big guy with a big gun, camp establishment, a bag of guns, a lack of trust, knife taking, a house that’s surrounded by a fence, an underground military base, tunnels, a big, weird door, a room with weird stuff in it, a room full of chains and hooks and pictures of people, a stuffed animal that’s hanging from a rope, a chainsaw, a crucified skeleton, a guy gets his legs sawn off, piles of decaying dead bodies, a hanging dead body, a folder filled with pictures, skeletons in cages, attempted generator fixing, a severed head hanging via chain from the ceiling, a woman alive and in a hole in the ground, back stabbing, machete right through the back, bloody internal organs removal, arm severing, attempted switchboard fixing, decapitation, an old locket, baseball bat to the head, more internal organs removal, a truly satisfying beating, bloody head removal, dead body covering, a “big man vs. big man” throw down, machine gun attack, another decapitation, a man in a suit, multiple bullets to the head, and an ending that promises a third movie.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: An onscreen definition of the word “massacre,” a fat guy wearing a “No Fat Gingers” T-shirt (and he’s a ginger!), Danielle Harris, a map with photos on it, old black and white pictures, necrophilia, a man bun, stream crossing, a house that’s surrounded by a fence, a human dick in a jar, dick smashing, a crucified skeleton, skeletons in cages, a “I’m Behind You” note, generator hooey, severed head kicking, Danielle Harris beating the shit out of a guy, machine gun hooey, a complete fucking bullshit ending, and an ending that promises a third movie.

Best lines: “What am I to do with you?,” “Remember why you’re here! What did I tell you about begging?,” “Jesus! Christ you scared the shit out of me!,” “And I thought I was obsessed,” “Have you lost your fucking mind?,” “This is ridiculous! You are not going back out there!,” “I’m doing this to honor him,” “Like I said, I don’t trust you,” “You know me, Tom, I’ll never stop looking,” “Jesus. This is fucked up,” “I think you broke my fucking nose! Better than your fucking neck,” “Come on talk to me. Let me show you my etchings,” “It seems like we’re not the only ones who want to meet the boogeyman,” “I love a woman that plays hard to get. Makes me horny,” “I thought this was supposed to be an old military base,” “She’ll be fine. She’s not the one I’m worried about,” “Boogey! Boogey!,” “I knew I should have brought Big Bubba,” “That is a human eyeball,” “That’s a human dick!,” “I’ve seen this guy. He’s been missing for years,” “It’s a fucking graveyard up here!,” “These guys didn’t stand a fucking chance. What a way to go,” “No one knows we’re down here, Gus,” “Okay, that’s messed up,” “I wonder what he’ll do with you. There are so many wonderful possibilities,” “You’re going to die down here,” “I knew I should have brought more guns,” “Incredible, isn’t he?,” “So what now, you sick fuck?,” “I feel sorry for you, Max,” “Beautiful,” “Kill me! Kill me!,” “You wanna get close and make this personal, motherfucker? You want to go man on man? Or man against whatever the fuck you are? Bring it,” and “Try coming back from that, motherfucker.”

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is a low budget slasher flick that I should be celebrating. It’s chock full of good stuff. But the last minute of the movie is such a disaster that it ruins the whole thing. The whole fucking thing. Modern horror icon Danielle Harris kicks ass in the movie, and she has such tremendous chemistry with co-star Gary Kasper, who also does a terrific job. But the ending kills whatever goodwill the movie generates throughout its 104 minute running time. Not every horror movie needs a big twist ending and not all horror movies need to end depressingly. Redwood Massacre: Annihilation should be a classic. It has all of the elements. But it trips over itself and ends badly. Avoid this movie unless you’re a Danielle Harris completist or you’re one of those people who needs to see every slasher movie ever made. Otherwise, stay away. Redwood Massacre: Annihilation will depress you.