18th Jan2021

‘Paintball Massacre’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Katy Brand, Lee Latchford-Evans, Robert Portal, Nicholas Vince, Ian Virgo, Cheryl Burniston, Lockhart Ogilvie, Natasha Killip, Nathan Vlough, Joe Hallett | Written by Chris Regan | Directed by Darren Berry

Brit horror Paintball Massacre sees a bunch of old school friends go on a paintball trip miles away from civilization. Things go horribly wrong when they discover that not only are their old school “friends” playing the game but also a cold-blooded masked killer…

High school reunions in movies never go right do they? Be it comedy or horror, school reunions tend to feature people harbouring unforgiven betrayals, long-standing hatreds, and stir up emotions that many have buried deep, forgetting the traumas of school life until they come face to face with people long-since forgotten. Its even worse when one of the class mates has turned into a total psychopath and want to take hatred of their school “friends” to a whole new level.

Paintball Massacre essentially plays out like a slasher movie: a bunch of people in the woods, getting stalked by an unknown killer. And like all good slasher movies, each victim is killed in an ironic fashion – be it the estate agent impaled on a for sale sign or the solider blown up with a land mine. Which, as Cheryl Burniston’s Jessica purports, means that the killer knows who they are! Is it Simon? Jessica’s boyfriend who hasn’t turned up to the reunion? Or – like a myriad other high school horrors – is it that one kid everyone’s forgotten about? The one everyone bullied in high school?

Paintball Massacre is as much a comedy as it is a horror. In fact the film has a wonderfully dry sense of British humour. It’s dark, black, comedy that adds a lot more to the film than you’d expect – especially when it comes to some of the characters; the humour off-setting the almost nihilistic nature of some of the characterisations, in particular Natasha Killip’s Lauren (though props must go to Killip, her character may be a narcissistic bitch but she’s the highlight of the film!)

Speaking of comedy there’s an absolutely brilliant running joke regarding the Fast & Furious franchise being a metaphor for life as told by Aoife Smyth’s stoner Sara… and everything she says is pretty much right. Who would’ve though that it would take a horror film about a bunch of Brits getting bumped off during a paintball match to realise that Fast & Furious is life!

Director Darren Berry has previously worked as a cinematographer and there are times during Paintball Massacre when you can clearly see his experience come to the fore. There are some beautiful scenes here – even as the cast are being slaughtered… Not to spoil the film, but there’s a scene featuring Jessica getting covered in the blood of one of her classmates that is as gorgeous as it is gory. And that’s not the only time this horror film looks anything but horrific…

With a retro soundtrack that feels like its stepped out of a late-80s slasher movie and some great performances from the likes of Cheryl Burniston and, surprisingly, Steps member Lee Latchford-Evans; Paintball Massacre is a fantastic British horror that, whilst it conforms to the tropes of the slasher movie, also feels very much like a modern British reworking of the old Agatha Christie murder-mysteries, specifically her 1939 oft-filmed (and oft-imitated) story Ten Little Indians; and as such not only marks cinematographer turned director Darren Berry as one to watch but also screenwriter Chris Regan, who has clearly stepped up his game from the likes of London Heist, knocking this mystery out of the park (and into the much more deadly woods!)

**** 4/5

Paintball Massacre is out now in the US from Uncork’d Entertainment.


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