When you come across a title like Darren Berry’s Paintball Massacre, you kind of know what to expect. An Ingmar Bergman-like psychological treatise on life’s futility this is clearly not. Sadly, it also misses the mark as a gory, dime-budget exploitation flick – something its title so implicitly implies. Even the most undemanding of gorehounds are likely to be disappointed by the film’s disjointed structure, poor editing, and slapdash approach to what matters most: the kills, the promised buckets of blood (and paint).
Berry’s feature, which looks and feels just a notch above a high school production in someone’s backyard, takes a long while to get going, and once it does, it gets worse as it progresses. A lengthy high-school reunion sees a bunch of unlikeable characters interact with each other awkwardly. There’s a whole slew of them, and they’re all interchangeable, so I’ll mention a few: the outcast Jessica (Cheryl Burniston), the douchy gangsta-wannabe Aiden (Joe Hallett), and the former chess club member Nathan (Lee Latchford-Evan).
“…a killer begins to off the young men and women in savage ways.”
The morning after the reunion, they all board a bus and go paintballing. Some are reluctant, others inebriated, though most are excited, despite the intensity of their “guide,” the butchy Marshal (Katy Brand). Once broken into teams, the Mass Acres against The Infidels, personal resentments surface. To make matters worse, a killer begins to off the young men and women in savage ways.
“How savage?” you may ask. Let me count the ways. A character is blown to bits by a land mine right after giving an inspirational speech. An aspiring realtor is impaled on a Home for Sale sign. A young woman is crucified, and a young man is buried alive. “Finding a needle in a haystack” takes a whole new meaning when a key is searched for within someone’s intestinal tract.
"…misses the mark as a gory, dime-budget exploitation flick..."