With a title like WrestleMassacre, you know what kind of movie you’re in for. And yet, I cannot overstate just how much this rubbish resembles a cross between a backwoods wrestling event and a no-budget horror flick filmed in your mate’s basement. To be clear, though, it’s not even worthy of the fun images those two events conjure. The thing starts off with a naked woman (a friend of the filmmakers, one would hope) running through the woods, the camera right up her vagina (seriously), and only gets more baffling from there. It’s not just incompetent, offensive, and badly made to the point of insanity; WrestleMassacre also boasts very little wrestling or massacring.
Our hero is Randy (the likeable Richie Acevedo, himself a former indy wrestler), a lowly groundskeeper who dreams of pro-wrestling glory. Problem is, nobody believes in him, not even his own ex-wrestler father, and they all treat him like dirt even when Randy just wants to do his job and perv on his clients showering (more boobs!) in peace. After his big shot at a local school run by the legendary Jimmy Valiant, AKA The Boogie Woogie Man (who seemingly still has an Outlook email address, just FYI) goes embarrassingly wrong, Randy snaps and goes on a rampage. It’s like Joker, but with a wannabe wrestler instead of a comedian. There’s also some business with local criminals but that’s inconsequential.
Just to clear, horror movies made on the sly by a group of friends with a decent idea can be really fun. See the recent Pool Party Massacre, which was shot entirely on the director’s property and boasts plenty of blood, guts, and laughs even though, demonstrably, it cost about ten bucks to make. The issue with WrestleMassacre isn’t that it’s cheaply made by a bunch of amateurs, but rather that every single choice is wrong and, because of the inclusion of famous wrestlers like Valiant, Tony Atlas (in a sweaty, blink and you’ll miss him cameo) and Rene Dupree, the people behind it seem to think none of the fundamentals will matter and that they’ll just…get away with it.
Star power doesn’t drown out inept framing, terrible sound design, and flat performances, however. Take, for example, the phone call that takes place early on between Owen (Julio Bana Fernandez, who looks like a cross between a young Jason Mewes and Fabio — the latter comparison forming the basis of a joke that pops up more than once here) and some Tiger King-looking dude he owes money to because, and I cannot stress this enough, he’s addicted to fantasy football. The shot is framed so only the aggressor’s dirty teeth are shown, which seems like something that would’ve been obvious the first time it was set up. Also, iPhones don’t ring like landlines except in WrestleMassacre. Neither actor is particularly convincing, but the script doesn’t help them either. Later, Fernandez will struggle to keep a straight face while being intimidated outside of a bar, but we can’t really blame him.
The score is omnipresent and sounds like a transplant from an old arcade game. Sometimes, it overpowers the dialogue so we have no idea what the characters are even saying to each other. At one stage, there’s a big, bloody fight montage with a song that sounds like a PPV reject (yes, worse than Flo-Rida’s “My House”) laid over it and no additional audio, so the victims’ reactions and, crucially, their screams aren’t audible. The song ends before the montage does, too. A washing machine or overhead fan appears to have been left on during another sequence which, again, is surely something that was noticeable during the first take (unless they only did one, of course).
The pacing in WrestleMassacre is truly bizarre. Randy disappears for a significant chunk of the final act, midway through his own rampage, the reasons for which aren’t made entirely clear, and the action grinds to a complete halt as a trio of criminals descend on Owen’s house to extract what they’re owed. Before Dupree’s character, Shawn, can show up to save the day, though, there’s a lengthy sex scene between him and his onscreen wife with, yes, even more female nudity. The film’s treatment of women is dodgy, to say the very least, as they’re mostly kept either on the sidelines, as with Owen’s well-meaning wife, Becky, but when they do take center-stage it’s purely for ogling purposes, or to complain about the boob jobs their partners haven’t paid for yet.
All of the men are dressed like wrestlers, and they barge into scenes to, essentially, cut promos on each other to the extent that when the film finally does descend into a backyard wrestling match, it’s actually pretty good. The usual nonsense props like ladders and chairs are well-utilized and the participants, all either local amateur wrestlers or former pro-wrestlers, work well together. It’s almost a shame that the “massacre” element is there at all, even though poor Randy is evidently a better murderer than he is a wrestler. Acevedo brings warmth to a barely-written role, looking a bit like WWE Superstar Luke Harper (or Brody Lee, to give him his AEW name) let himself go. He’s a pathetic character and it’s easy to empathize with him, particularly as Randy stands in front of a whiteboard where “Fire Randy” has clearly been written as part of a to-do list.
Aside from Acevedo, there are a couple decent performances among the no-name cast, but otherwise the clear standout here is Dupree, who’s easily more natural and charismatic onscreen than anybody else. Valiant has fun in his small role, too, proving he can still pack a punch in his twilight years and showcasing his surprisingly compact real-life wrestling school in the process. There are also some intentionally funny moments — as opposed to the shot of a plant on a stool in front of a mirror that was someone’s idea of set dressing and becomes more hilarious the longer the scene drags on — such as when one wannabe wrestler yells, “I don’t wanna be a wrestler anymore!” after running afoul of a bloodthirsty Randy. The script, credited to four different people including, shockingly, one woman, isn’t complete garbage, it just needs more jokes and much less proselytizing.
As for the SFX, which are credited to about ten different people, they’re fine but some clever editing could’ve sold them a bit better. Still, it’s always better to see practical stuff rather than cheap CGI and any gore created in someone’s garage, even if it’s unconvincing, is by its very existence charming. It’s also worth noting that the logo for WrestleMassacre is pretty cool (grasping at straws here, but it genuinely is). Unfortunately, none of the mildly diverting stuff that’s fun about this movie makes up for just how incompetent it is. Suddenly it’s nighttime during a scene that, two seconds previously, was taking place in daylight. And then the whole thing ends abruptly like director and co-writer Brad Twigg had no idea how to finish it off and just stopped shooting. The thing is loaded with capital-C choices, many of which make The Room look like it was filmed competently. I realize that’s an overused comparison, but WrestleMassacre really is that bad. To add insult to injury, it can’t even be enjoyed in the same way Tommy Wiseau’s beloved cult movie can because there’s nothing bizarre enough to cling to.
All things considered, there really isn’t enough wrestling or massacring to even justify that evocative title. A baffling endeavor for all involved.
WICKED RATING: 2/10
Director(s): Brad Twigg
Writer(s): Brad Twigg, Rosanna Nelson, Matthew L. Furnam, Julio Bana Fernandez
Stars: Richie Acevedo, Julio Bana Fernandez, Rene Dupree, Tony Atlas
Release date: June 16, 2020
Studio/Production Company: Fuzzy Monkey Films
Run Time: 100 minutes