Paintball Massacre review – splatterhouse horror with scattershot acting

This scruffy British-made comedy-horror, helmed by debut director Darren Berry, features a large ensemble cast with an extremely wide range of acting skills. Sadly, just as the story itself turns on how each individual’s flaws endanger the whole team, the same goes for the movie itself: thudding line readings and embarrassing bursts of overacting sully the better work on display. But maybe it’s a fool’s errand to expect much better from a film about a team of paintballers, all friends from a secondary school who graduated in 2004, being murdered one by one in comically grotesque ways in a tatty woodland area near a quarry.

The makers have cited British comedy-horror features Hot Fuzz e Dog Soldiers as touchstones. Knowing that at least serves to help viewers appreciate how deftly the writer-directors of those earlier films, Edgar Wright and Neil Marshall, balance comic timing and tension-building, while coaxing good performances. But even they might have struggled with mayhem on a paintball course, a daft premise that isn’t exploited as well as it might have been – given how innately silly this mock military pastime is, one so beloved of middle-management types and macho-minded suburbanites.

But at least Natasha Killip, as a filthy-mouthed, evil-tempered glamour model, and Aoife Smyth as a perpetually stoned fan of the Fast and the Furious franchise are around to perk up the scenes they’re in with well-timed insult comedy and stream-of-consciousness monologues about Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Reliably funny comedian Katy Brand is also good for a few laughs as one of the paintball course’s marshals, especially when she is found lying irritably on the ground with half her intestines pulled out. The rest of the cast seems to consist mostly of interchangeable bearded white guys.

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