[31 Days of Horror Part VI: Jason Lives] Day 1 – Father’s Day (2011)

Director: Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matt Kennedy, Steven Kostanski, Conor Sweeney

Cast: Adam Brooks, Matt Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Amy Groening, Mackenzie Murdock, Meredith Sweeney

Screenplay: Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matt Kennedy, Steven Kostanski, Conor Sweeney

99 mins. Not Rated.

 

Well, it’s October again, my favorite time of year. Do you find that you wait all year for a certain time? I know I do. A time of Pumpkin Spice Lattes and multicolor leaves…and the horror. My God, the horror! Well, let’s get started with a throwback grindhousian B-movie from a team of five writer/directors called Father’s Day.

The plot here is more than convoluted, so let me try my best. A serial killer named Chris Fuchman (Mackenzie Murdock, Manborg, Peelers) raped and murdered ten fathers thirty years ago but got off on a technicality, and since that time there have been multiple other rape/murders of fathers, including the father of Ahab (Adam Brooks) and Chelsea (Amy Groening, Goon, Halloween Party). Ahab went out looking for vengeance and ended up in prison. His sister became a stripper. Now, out of prison, Ahab discovers that his history with Fuchman is far from over, and the rape/murders are starting up again, and he may be the only one who can stop it.

There’s a respectable level of lunacy to Father’s Day. The film knows exactly what it wants to be, and as you all know, that’s the most important part of my reviews. Father’s Day wants to be a send-up/homage to B-movie/Grindhouse films, and in that way, I think it completely misses the mark for me. It feels like it’s heading in the right direction several times, but its overly-complicated story and choppy editing lead it down a path to ruin. The film jumps around so much that you don’t have time to really connect to any of the characters and appreciate the B-level attempt. You can argue and say that’s what makes it a B-movie, and I would argue back that it still needs to be a good movie to be a good movie, regardless of style.

Adam Brooks is a very unlikable lead, but then again, there’s no one character that is interesting or likable, and that’s probably what really took me away. Let’s compare this aspect of Father’s Day to the ultimate send-up B-movies, Grindhouse and Machete. In Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino’s half of Grindhouse, pretty much all of the main ladies are enjoyable enough or interesting enough to follow. Even Stuntman Mike is interesting as much as he is unlikable. In Machete, our title character is an asshole, but he has a code, and that’s very clear from early on. Ahab is boorish and full of assholery. Fuchman is not a villain who I ever want to spend time watching; he’s disgusting and awful and purely unwatchable. Chelsea is initially introduced with an element of at least connective likability, but all that goes out the window pretty quick.

Where the film wins is its style, and while I don’t think it’s edited together very well (there’s so much jumping around that I had trouble sticking to any semblance of a story), I think there’s a lot of stylistic choices that make this film feel like it was taped on a VCR from some midnight-movie channel. There are advertisements for films playing on the station later on in the night, and the movie plays as though it has fallen into public domain and no company has come along to restore the negative, like all the cheap or free copies of Night of the Living Dead you can find in the bargain bin (but please just go get the Criterion). The film is dirty and torn and put back together and oozes with a level of cheapness, which works because it was distributed by Troma, so it fits nicely in that catalogue. Using this style allows the film’s later crazier elements to work better, especially the creature design effects for the finale.

Yeah, Father’s Day was a bust, and it’s too bad because on the surface I really thought this one would appeal to me, but as it went on, I noticed an over-reliance on gross-out humor, virtually zero character development, and a choppy story structure that just couldn’t keep my interest. I may be in the wrong, though, as the film has garnered some positive reviews. You can easily find it online for cheap or free, so maybe give it a try on your own. For me, this was a complete misfire.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s The Void, click here.

For my review of the anthology film ABCs of Death 2, click here.

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 29 – The Void (2016)

 

Director: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski

Cast: Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Evan Stern, Trish Rainone, Mik Byskov

Screenplay: Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski

90 mins. Not Rated.

 

My favorite thing about watching 31 horror films in a month is coming across a true gem. Oftentimes, I get a chance to catch a few brand new movies in all this, and thankfully, The Void is an absolute delight.

When Deputy Daniel Carter (Aaron Poole, This Beautiful City, Mary Goes Round) comes across an injured man on the side of the road, he immediately brings him to the local hospital, which has been mostly abandoned. The only remaining staff are Dr. Richard Powell (Kenneth Welsh, The Day After Tomorrow, Awakening the Zodiac), nurse and Daniel’s estranged wife Allison (Kathleen Munroe, A Family Man, TV’s Patriot), intern Kim (Ellen Wong, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, TV’s GLOW), and nurse Beverly. When the hospital becomes surrounded by cloaked and hooded figures with weapons, it becomes quite that the remaining members of the hospital staff are being targeted for a specific purpose, but they could never know how sinister their night is about to become.

I really liked The Void. It is both a callback to the practical effects and creature features of the 1980s as well as a gruesome and brutal horror film that is unique and all its own. Directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski treat their material with the utmost respect and care, treating each twist and turn with unexpected tenacity.

The performers, particularly Poole, Munroe, and Welsh, are quite well-cast and played. I don’t have much experience with Poole, but I found him to be very accessible as the Deputy out of his element. Munroe and Welsh have previous experience from Survival of the Dead, and their chemistry is still solid.

Where the film falters is in its run time. Even at 90 minutes, some scenes feel very overstretched. I feel like The Void belongs in the 80-minute range and could have been better served with a little more chopping in the editing room.

Overall, The Void is a fun and frightening film with some of the more unique scares and effects I’ve seen recently. It’s combination of Lovecraftian Horror and visual flair make for a great viewing experience. This is a good one to check out for Halloween. Grab your Netflix account and jump into The Void.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of the anthology film ABCs of Death 2, click here.

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 16 – ABCs of Death 2 (2014)

Director: Rodney Ascher, Julian Barratt, Robert Boocheck, Alejandro Brugues, Kristina Buozyte, Alexandre Bustillo, Larry Fessenden, Julian Gilbey, Jim Hosking, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, E.L. Katz, Aharon Keshales, Steven Kostanski, Marvin Kren, Juan Martinez Moreno, Erik Matti, Wolfgang Matzl, Julien Maury, Robert Morgan, Chris Nash, Vincenzo Natali, Hajime Ohata, Navot Papushado, Bill Plympton, Dennison Ramalho, Todd Rohal, Jerome Sable, Bruno Samper, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Soichi Umezawa

Cast: Eric Jacobus, Andy Nyman, Simon Barrett, Julian Barratt, Pat Daniel, Tristan Risk, Beatrice Dalle, Laurence R. Harvey

Screenplay: David Chirchirillo, Julian Barratt, Julian Gilbey, Robert Morgan, Alejandro Brugues, Jim Hosking, Toby Harvard, Erik Matti, Dennison Ramalho, Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper, Ossa Earlice, Robert Boocheck, Larry Fessenden, Hajime Ohata, Todd Rohal, Rodney Ascher, Benjamin Hessler, Juan Martinez Moreno, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Vincenzo Natali, Jerome Sable, Nicholas Musurca, Jeremy Gillespie, Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo, Soichi Umezawa, Chris Nash

125 mins. Not Rated.

 

Who would think that The Human Centipede was part of a shared universe? Okay, take this rather lightly, but Laurence R. Harvey from The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) appears as the same character in a post-credits scene from ABCs of Death 2. Stupid, but I’m counting it.

So if you have seen The ABCs of Death, this sequel anthology should explain itself, but I’ll go through the motions with you. 26 different directors were each given a budget, a letter of the alphabet, and complete creative control to craft a short film involving death. The 26 shorts are collected here in this anthology and played in order of letter. The shorts range from horrific to comedic to disturbed to gross-out. The style ranges from found-footage to animated to traditional narrative.

Now, just like the first film, any anthology is hit-and-miss. Some of the shorts are great, some are not. The shorts in particular that I enjoyed were:

  • B is for Badger
  • I is for Invincible
  • J is for Jesus
  • M is for Masticate
  • N is for Nexus

But overall, this anthology is much better than the previous one. There are more good shorts than bad ones on display here, and the overall tone is more refined than the first one, perhaps each of the directors saw the original series and took the feedback, though I’m not saying this was a requirement.

Now, there are still bits in the film that are absolutely terrible and overtly grotesque without redemptive qualities, but that’s the brilliance of ABCs of Death 2; in five minutes, you will have an entirely new tale. Therein also lies the issue of ABCs of Death 2. The formula can wear thin when the shorts wear thin. But that’s what you accept when you see this film, and I can deal with it.

ABCs of Death 2 is a worthwhile watch, and while there were some great pieces in the original film, there are more in the sequel. If you liked the first film, you will find a lot to enjoy here. If you didn’t like the first film, I wouldn’t expect to be swayed here.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For the anthology film The ABCs of Death, click here.

For my review of Tom Six’s The Human Centipede (First Sequence), click here.

For my review of Jen & Sylvia Soska’s American Mary, click here.

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