A hardware store employee’s first night on the job is disrupted by the discovery of a dead body and a duffel bag full of cash.
If given an opportunity, Massacre on Aisle 12 will find a receptive audience.
Whether that says something positive about the movie itself or something not so flattering about movie fans in general these days is an open question, but there will be those who love Massacre on Aisle 12.
They’re the ones who have always thought that Jim Carrey’s brand of humor is a bit too subtle. They’re the ones who appreciate a nice, long, gratuitous boob shot in the opening minutes of a movie. They’re the ones who believe that the Wayans brothers have a very sophisticated take on urban drug culture. They’re the ones who reward homophobic jokes with uncontrollable spasms of giggles. They’re the ones who prefer stereotypes to characters. And they’re the ones who generally favor strippers over actresses in their horror films.
Oh, I forgot to mention: Massacre on Aisle 12 is a horror film. Well, a horror-comedy, presumably. And even though it misses the mark time and time and time (and time!) again, it deserves full credit for the energy and enthusiasm it dedicates to its ultimately lost cause.
It’s Christmas Eve in a low-rent urban hardware store, and even though the place appears to be the size of your average Home Depot, it conveniently only employs a handful of absolute losers who make the Island of Misfit Toys look like an offshore satellite classroom of Harvard Business School. A sequence of only-in-a-movie-like-this events—including the discovery of a dead body with a duffle bag full of cash and a drug trip gone bad—leads to the gang being locked in the store together playing an impromptu game of Last One Dead Gets the Cash. There are crossbows, chainsaws, guns, knives, pointy-nosed badgers, and a whole bevy of dangerous items that ultimately turn one of the most holy of nights into one of the most holey of nights.
Massacre on Aisle 12 writers Chad Ridgley and A.J. Via, along with directors Jim Klock and William Mark McCullough, appear to be interested in horror exclusively as the setup to the joke, and the jokes do fly fast and furiously. There is plenty of slapstick and cartoonish violence. There are cultural and political references (albeit largely sophomoric ones) galore. And there are enough unforgiveable stereotypes played for laughs (racial, ideological, sexual, and more) to delight and/or offend nearly every point-of-view.
And they aren’t all misses, either.
Despite its paper-thin premise and largely lowest-common-denominator humor, Massacre on Aisle 12 does make solid contact with the occasional pitch here and there. The right-wing Gulf-War-veteran-cum-store-handyman played by co-director Jim Klock earns his share of chuckles both with his outrageous claims of desert heroism and with the relentless violence visited upon him by his fellow employees. James Aikido Burgess manages to salvage his role as Black Jack (yes, Black Jack, a cringe-worthy African American stereotype) by giving it everything he’s got and enthusiastically running through every racially-monomaniacal wall erected by the script. And Michael Buonomo earns his keep as the straight-laced rookie employee with a single, perfect scream delivered upon discovery of the dead body that sets the events of the night in motion.
But you really have to dig through a lot of garbage to find the occasional gem.
That said, it is worth repeating that Massacre on Aisle 12 works very hard from start to finish, and it is certainly not lazy (other than intellectually, of course). By and large, the performers—including co-writer Chad Ridgley as Jack, whose bad drug trip transforms him from horny assistant manager to homicidal killer—give it all they’ve got, and despite the action being confined exclusively to the hardware store and warehouse, the filmmakers make the most of the space.
However, it becomes pretty apparent early on that Massacre on Aisle 12 values comedic quantity over quality, and while its brand of humor may well delight a certain niche audience (specifically adolescent boys and immature men), it doesn’t have a whole lot to offer to the rest of us.