On the surface, this low budget British film could be dismissed as another ‘laddish’ horror comedy, bur is worth a deeper look. Paintball Massacre is the debut feature from cinematographer Darren Berry, which takes a familiar premise and gives it some heart.
When Jess (Cheryl Burniston) is stood up at a school reunion by her fiancé, she’s forced to go along with the plans of the group who don’t really want her there. It’s a motley crowd, who are as obnoxious as Jess remembers. A paintballing trip is planned for the next day and the worst is yet to come as the petty jealousies, rivalries, and hangovers are the least of the worries when the opposing team are found mutilated and they are next.
Once Paintball Massacre gets going, it becomes more like a backwoods stalk-and-slash movie than a ribald ensemble piece. One of the strong points is the use of physical gore; nothing over the top, but it works much better then relying on CGI. The group dynamics – or dysfunction – doesn’t provide many characters to root for, although when the threat raises its head, some handle it better than others and become a little more likable as their true colours show.
There are not many films that liken life to Fast and Furious films. This simple philosophy is among the gems in Chris Regan’s script. Former pop superstar Lee Latchford-Evans gets a wry line, “We’ll find a ladder… or some steps!” referencing his previous career. There are a couple of other familiar faces here, too: comedian Katy Brand dominates as one of the paintball marshals, while the Chatterer himself Nicholas Vince pops up as the barman at the beginning. Amongst the slaughter and swearing, there’s a serious message about how the traumas and nastiness of school life can come back to haunt us. It’s handled in a much better way than many of the American films of the ‘80s, and is a decent entry into what’s becoming a very healthy British independent horror scene.
Available on DVD and Digital from ASDA, HMV, Amazon, Prime Video, iTunes and Sky Store from 4Digital Media.