Monday, May 2, 2011

You'll Pity This Fool: "April Fool's Day" (2008)

This reimagining of the 1980's chestnut already has one strike against it before the disc even hits the DVD player- if a horror film involving gory murders takes place on April Fool's Day, then the viewer is going to be automatically suspicious of everything they see or hear.

On April 1, 2007, spoiled rich orphans Desiree (Taylor Cole) and Blaine (Josh Henderson) are throwing a society coming-out party for Torrance (Scout Taylor-Compton). Invitees include dimwitted future politician Peter (Samuel Child), his beauty queen wife Barbie (Jennifer Siebel), Desiree's enemy Milan (Sabrina Ann Aldridge), video geek Ryan (Joe Egender) who has a crush on Milan, and gossip blogger Charles (Joseph McKelheer). The party gets going, but a prank played by Desiree and Blaine on Milan leads Milan to take a header out of a second floor balcony and die.

One year later, and after court hearings exonerating everyone and giving estate control to Desiree, six of the remaining friends are summoned to Milan's gravesite. A delivered package contains a video of Charles being drowned in his pool, and a letter proclaims that unless one of the friends cops to Milan's murder, they will all die. The finger pointing and back stabbing begin immediately, but the film's focus is on the siblings, who make like Scooby and the gang and try to solve the murders before they are next.

This film is definitely not a shot-by-shot remake, or even a franchise reboot, although one can always wish for a Deborah Foreman cameo...and get disappointed. Only the title and very loose plot is taken from the first film (which was merely good enough). Like I said, this version also has some baggage along, and the viewer immediately knows more than the characters in the film. Unfortunately, these characters are so immensely unlikable, I was hoping all the murders were real. I thought the screenwriter might go for a nasty "Cruel Intentions"-type vibe, but watching these whiny twentysomethings drive around Charlotte, North Carolina chasing ghosts gets real boring real quick.

The actors cannot do anything with the poor script. Cole (who looks like a young Sharon Stone) and Henderson are okay, and the final final twist is a kicker, but we must suffer through too many scenes that do not work, or take their own sweet time padding out the film. Anyone else think the 2007 ball was going to be the whole movie? It takes forever.

The technical aspects are excellent for such a small production, although The Butcher Brothers (with a name like that, this film should have been meaner) really really love that Steadicam rig, but the suspense is nonexistent.

Sure, '80's horror franchises are getting rebooted left and right, but I think this new "April Fool's Day" fails. Please, God, don't let anyone find a VHS copy of Roz Kelly in "New Year's Evil"...please? (*) out of five stars.