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Friday, September 22, 2023

Curse of the Reefer Beast (2023)

I’m a huge fan of the Trailer Park Boys and have a subscription to their website/streaming service Swearnet. I was very surprised when a horror comedy showed up on their site as that normally isn’t their thing. Since I’m a fan and already watch a lot of low or no budget independent movies I thought I’d give Curse of the Reefer Beast a shot.

The movie opens with a woman being chased thru the woods before running up to a cabin. There she is killed offscreen by an unknown person or creature. Well, that is a fairly generic way to start things off but I suppose one can’t argue with the classics. Then we are introduced to our main characters. They are in class, which is being taught by John Russo of Night of the Living Dead fame. His best student is Angie. She is going off to the woods with her friends, who have invited a couple of stoners along without asking for her permission. This annoys Angie but she relents. There is also a guy who is hitting on her, Gunner, who ends up being invited without Angie’s knowledge as well.

With the characters introduced they then spend time talking about nonsense, especially the stoners, before getting in a car and driving to the woods. While driving they talk more, and we also see Gunner’s car break down. This allows him to run into some “influencers” aka. more victims for the eventual killings. Which by the way is taking way too long to happen. There is also a bit where they stop at a gas station for beer and the warning from the locals to “stay away from that place”. Eventually they arrive, most of them die, and a big twist is revealed.

If the above plot synopsis seems half assed and boring it isn’t a reflection of a lack of effort on my part but more so a lack of effort from the filmmakers. Curse of the Reefer Beast is one of those movies that copies all the familiar themes from other movies without adding anything new. Harbingers of doom warning you not to go to your destination… check. Arriving and setting up camp/moving in montage… check. Smoking weed and premarital naughty activities… check. I think you are getting the idea. Now if that is done well then it can still be a fun flick, but here we get pale imitation surrounded by far too much padding for a movie with a meager seventy six minute runtime to approach being entertaining. For context after the first kill it takes forty minutes of the runtime to get the characters to the lake and for the first of them to die!

Speaking of the kills they are mostly lame. I get a lack of budget limiting what can be done. But even bad practical effects are a better idea then having most everything happen offscreen. Remember that this movie was being played for laughs so bad latex kills might have worked fine. We do get a decapitation and a baseball bat thru the chest. Both are cheesy but okay. The best kill is saved for a character that shows up for a hot second to die and involves him getting torn in half. But this is too little too late as the other five kills are all offscreen and lame.

Other things to note are the generic and terrible rock music that plays over the montages, the awkward cameo from John Russo who stumbles over his lines, and the same old stoner jokes that might have landed thirty or forty years ago but are far too familiar to be funny now. This last bit proved to me that the boys clearly just put their names on this as they have written much better stoner humor themselves over the years.

Curse of the Reefer Beast is a prime example of how to do an independent horror flick wrong. A lack of budget doesn’t stop you from having a fully formed story with your own twist on the genre. Would it have killed them to figure out a few more jokes that were actually funny before running off with a camera instead of just copying shit you have seen other movies do? I can’t recommend this one at all.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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