‘The Redwood Massacre’ is an archetypical 2014 horror film reminiscent of the 80s slasher genre, with a masked bloodthirsty villain at its center. The Redwood House has been a source of curiosity for years, with legends emerging about a gruesome murder occurring at the farm. Consequently, the stories only attract attention from the young and daring crowd, turning the area into a local party spot. However, Pamela and her friends uncover the brutal truth behind the legends when they visit the site for an exciting adventure and cross paths with the axe-fanatic Redwood Killer.
While the film, a classic horror story ripe with blood and gore, employs numerous genre tropes and cliches, it also distinguishes itself from other genre staples through its unique backstory. As such, the urban legend behind the Redwood Farm Killings shapes the film’s narrative and remains a central plot point throughout the story. Therefore, given the significance of the intriguing small-town folklore behind the site, people might question its ties to reality.
A Fictional Horror Indie
‘The Redwood Massacre’ is not based on a true story. Written and directed by David Ryan Keith, this film is a work of fiction essayed by the filmmaker from his own imagination. Keith’s second feature-length film, ‘The Redwood Massacre,’ takes considerable inspiration from the director’s previous works, including his 2006 debut short film, ‘Evil in The Hills.’ The short depicts a story about a Scottish highlander with a penchant for killing people.
Furthermore, since Keith knew he would be self-funding the film, he wanted a manageable and marketable tale he could easily work with. Therefore, when it came time to craft a story for a feature film, the director decided to adapt one from his previous horror endeavor. “I spent years as a kid watching all kinds of crazy slasher films, so I thought it would be a genre we’d have the best shot producing with a limited budget,” said Keith in a conversation with Shock Ya. “I also saw it as our best chance for distribution.”
Likewise, the film’s marketable value also informs much of the familiarity viewers will come across in the tale. For instance, the recognizable antagonist of this film, the nameless Redwood Killer, will undoubtedly spark a deja vu considering his similarity to other slasher villains like Freddy Krueger from ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street‘ or Jason from ‘Friday The 13th.’
In fact, the latter film franchise, which revolves around a killer on the loose in a lake camp, bears a noticeable resemblance to ‘The Redwood Massacre,’ compelling the viewers to draw parallels between the two. While Keith’s film certainly seems to absorb inspiration from classic horror films like ‘Friday the 13th,’ his fictional killer actually has a unique origin story bereft of any blatant pop-culture influences.
While discussing The Redwood Killer’s signature look’s creation, Keith said, “We actually commissioned a local company to produce what I thought was an original-looking costume. One day before the shoot, we received something so bad I couldn’t even bring myself to shoot it. I literally pieced together the costume three hours before the shoot after frantically searching shops for anything that would work.” Thus, an impromptu costume was put together with dungarees, belt sleeves, and a mask sourced from a U.S. company, The Grim Stitch Factory. The director commented on the mask and said, “The guy who makes these masks definitely has a skill for producing disturbing props that were just perfect for what we were trying to achieve.”
As for the inspiration behind The Redwood Killer’s origin as a local legend, the tale about a homicidal axe-bearer seems to be entirely fictitious as well, created to serve the film. Several other horror flicks, like ‘Candyman,’ ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer,’ and ‘Willow Creek’ have employed the same urban legend narrative tool to infuse their narrative with more realism.
Nevertheless, a classic Scottish urban legend about Sawney Bean might remind viewers of the fictional cannibal/killer from Keith’s film. Bean has been around for years and is used as an entertaining horror story for children. Yet, since there isn’t any tangible connection between The Redwood Killer and Bean, their relation to each other remains unlikely. Ultimately, ‘The Redwood Massacre’ is confined to the world of fiction without any firm basis in real life or urban legends.