Over the past year or two it has been my pleasure to have been involved in doing what little I can to help promote a whole range of ventures across the genres of Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror. It's been a blast, it really has. I've had the opportunity to correspond and collaborate with a number of very talented and highly motivated individuals who are producing a wide variety of astounding material. I genuinely believe that this time will be looked back upon as a golden era of creativity involving all the avenues of potential possibilities that the internet, the WWW and within it, social networking, has to offer. It truly is an exciting time.
The USA, Australia, Scandinavia, Brazil and the good old Blighty (amongst many others) have all provided this blog with a wealth of material and projects to write about. The problem has been (if it is a problem at all) that by the very nature of my home location (high up in the North East of Scotland on the beautiful Moray Firth), there hasn’t been much opportunity to become involved in projects close to home. To be honest, it has for some time been a mystery to me why more movies etc are not filmed in this part of Scotland, it has more than its fare share of suitably creepy and atmospheric places to fill a horror library......and I’m not just talking about Dundee. :-)
So when I was contacted by Lorraine Keith, a producer from Clear Focus Movies, asking me if I wanted to put a little something together on my blog about a film that had just been produced by their company – The Redwood Massacre. Well I was both devilishly excited and yet initially a little concerned. I’ll explain why concerned in a short while. However, why excited you may ask? Well because not only is the production company based in my neck the woods in the North of Scotland, but they are situated in the city where I work – Aberdeen. Nice!
Of course, I still wasn’t going to lend my (ahem) esteemed name to any old Tom, Dick or Harry tin pot organisation. After all, one has standards. No, shush, I really do have them.......it’s just that they are often a little difficult to locate. So I decided to have a wee look-see for myself at their website http://www.clearfocus-productions.co.uk/
It seems that Clear Focus Movies is a creative advertising and video production agency with something of a global reach. Their aim is to produce innovative films and original content across a wide range of brands, industries and platforms.
In addition to that they specialise in television advertisements, film production, health & safety video, training video, tool demonstration video, charity video, video for web content, 2D / 3D graphic animation. If that wasn’t enough, they act as both Video Production and Service Production Company, and apparently are happy to organise a customer’s video production from script to delivery – no matter how big or small the budget, or how simple or complex the project.
Blimey, they seem to be all professional and all that. I’m in!
After further perusing their website I also noticed they have a track record of film production already, with a previous 2011 movie called Attack of the Herbals . According to the website blurb it is an “Evil Dead/Shaun of the Dead” style of horror comedy, shot on low budget in the North East of Scotland. The film tells the story of a mysterious and unmarked wooden crate that is discovered by locals after it washes ashore. In the crate is rather strange substance which the locals discover makes a particularly nice tea (as you do) – though the side effects on the local population are not quite what they expect. It’s not a film I’m familiar with, but the synopsis alone is enough to intrigue me for a later time.
Anyhoo, enough digressing (I told you to stop me doing that). The purpose of this article is to talk about The Redwood Massacre. Firstly, let me provide you with the movie synopsis.
"Lets go for a walk - what's the worst that could happen?....
“For five adventurous friends, visiting the legendary murder site of Redwood has all the hallmarks of being an exciting and thrilling camping weekend away.
A popular site for revellers and party goers, each year on the exact date of the famous local family massacre, people from around the country head out to the site to have fun and scare each other. The twenty year old horror story is legend in the quiet sleepy part of Scotland and is made even more fascinating by the fact it is a true story.
As the five campers head deeper into the woods they soon discover they’re not on their own. What starts out as a fun camping trip soon turns into a bloody nightmare as they are sadistically stalked by a mysterious evil presence hell bent on viciously murdering his innocent victims one by one.
Events take a bloody turn for the worse when the innocent campers discover the Redwood myth is in fact a horrible reality, which turns the unsuspecting victims into prey for a mysterious axe wielding maniac that has remained dormant for twenty years
‘THE REDWOOD MASSACRE’ is a genre bending horror movie that plays with the rules and clichés of your typical slasher film.”
Now, those of you that have read some of my previous horror musings will no doubt identify pretty much straight away from the synopsis the problem, and why a district feeling of concern slightly diluted my initial reaction after hearing about the film being shot so close to where I live. For those of you that have been foolish/wise/sedated (delete as necessary) enough to have stayed away from my blog, it is quite simple. The ‘young campers in the woods hunted by a vicious sadistic killer’ isn’t one of my particular sub-topics of horror movie, quite the contrary – indeed on most levels it has been done to death, as it were, such is the over familiarity of the format. In fact I would put it only behind the found-footage horror format on my list of movie dislikes.
Yet this doesn’t seem to deter the independent and not-so-independent filmmaker it seems, because the 'rampant slasher in the woods' films are still being made – by the bucket full. Whether it is because it shows a catastrophic lack of original thinking, or possibly because (and this is my personal theory) that the ‘murder of teens in the woods’ sub-genre is simply the easiest and cheapest form of horror to make. If you combine that with the fact there is still something of an audience out there for this type of horror then why would these films cease to be produced?
However as such recent offerings as The Invoking (SEE HERE) and The Lashman (SEE HERE) show, there are still filmmakers willing and able to take an arguably tired formula and inject a whole new element of life into it.
Some Redwood Massacre production stuff going on....
So, once again I was willing to set aside my prejudices and endeavour to find out as much as I can about the movie before its official release date in Aberdeen in September.
Unfortunately I was unable to make the invitation to the early test screening of the movie at an Aberdeen cinema earlier this month due to an important engagement which I was unable cancel (major dental work – don’t laugh, it was bloody painful!). However I’ve been able to glean a few essential elements of information from a few people who were actually able to get their lives in order and attend the screening. I have also had the benefit of seeing the official trailer – which you can also see below.
The Redwood Massacre teaser trailer
If the test preview word of mouth and trailer is anything to go by, I may just have my cynicism thrown back in my smug little face – because it looks excellent. It also looks bloody scary – which for a horror film is always a good thing I suppose. I had already heard good accounts from the test viewing in regards to the cinematography – and judging by the admittedly brief trailer, this assertion is absolutely confirmed. The various camera shots and lighting look sublime and the sound is a suitably in your face (or ears) horror experience.
The acting in low budget independent horror can traditionally be hit or miss (to put it mildly) – however there doesn’t seem to be much to worry about judging from the few excerpts I have seen up to this moment. As for the horror, well lets just say some of the girls can scream! I will say though that the requisite murdering psychopath looks stunningly chilling and gives a genuinely horrific feel to the proceedings – we may have a new big-time bad boy in town, he is seriously scary looking.
A pensive moment for the homicidal manic.
It is quite clear that the writer and director David Ryan Keith has no intention of making anything close to an original horror film – and to be honest I applaud the honesty. The filmmakers here fully intend to give what they believe many in the horror film audience want – and that is an authentic old fashioned slasher horror with multiple violent deaths and gallons of blood and gore. Who am I to argue with this sentiment? To be honest, it is rather refreshing to see a filmmaker throw the condescending and patronising opinions many people have towards horror and the slasher sub-genre back in their faces.
Indeed, David has promised that “This film won’t be winning any screen play awards or any pats on the back for its meaningful tones or depiction of our society, what they will get is a fun 80 minute bloody movie that will entertain from beginning to end and hopefully give horror fans worldwide something to talk about....”
In addition to the film being shot in a number of locations in Aberdeenshire there is also a wealth of local acting talent potentially on show in The Redwood massacre. At the risk of alienating some names I may omit, just to quickly mention three:
Lisa Cameron (Pamela)
Lisa is an actress based in Aberdeen, Scotland, known from her work within various local independent films including ‘The Redwood Massacre’, ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ & ‘Sawney Bean’ which has since gone on to be nominated for a Scottish Bafta.
Rebecca Wilkie (Jessica)
Rebecca is an actress from the north of Scotland, known for her work in a variety of local independent films, her films have ranged from horror to action to comedy. Rebecca is also an experienced stage actress whose most recent production was the opening show from the newly refurbished Tivoli Theatre
Adam Coutts (Mark)
Adam is a drama teacher at the International School in Aberdeen. The Redwood Massacre is his first venture into film
I know I’m biased about the area in which I now live (and probably will until the grim reaper comes to take me into that haunted cabin in the woods in the sky – but I will genuinely admit to being just a little bit excited about a local horror film that might just turn out to be also bloody marvellous.
The official Aberdeen premier takes place in September – I fully hope to be there (dentists permitting). However a little birdie has informed me that there is a distinct possibility that I may be able to view a super duper secret preview online in July, as soon as the final score and soundtrack thingamajigs have been sorted. As soon as I’ve seen it, the full review will appear here.
David Ryan Keith
Lorraine Keith David Ryan Keith
David Ryan Keith
Clear Focus Movies Limited
Lorraine Keith David Ryan Keith
Mark Wood Lisa Livingstone Lisa Cameron Rebecca Wilkie Adam Coutts Lee Hutcheon
Running Time: 80 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66 1920 x 1080p 25fps