Being a horror fan means being well acquainted with disappointment, especially when it comes to the tricky niche genre of horror comedy. For every Dead Alive or Slither, there’s an 11th installment of the Scary Movie franchise. Upping the ante on themes that are overused in horror, President’s Day also rides the coattails of the holiday based film and, surprisingly, it works.
The tone of the movie is set in an opening scene that explains why President’s Day is now officially a spooky holiday and while I don’t think I’m the only one who didn’t get the memo on President’s Weekend being a huge party weekend, how else are we going to get our group of stereotypical horror movie characters together in the always cozy cabin in the woods? Imagine the beginning of The Cabin in the Woods on a wee budget and with a more slapstick kind of humor. Director David Zuckerman, who also wrote the film with Benjamin Goodwin and Jud Zumwalt, has crafted a fun horror comedy with it’s tongue firmly planted in it’s cheek.
Fans of The Slashening and Fear Town USA will absolutely want to spend 90 minutes with these dead presidents and the group of idiots that will be hunted down by them. In fact, the presidential humor is plentiful, equal parts smart and silly and, mostly, very funny. There’s a wheelchair gag that I could have lived without, but Taft stuck in a bathtub with rubber duckies attached to him tickled my funny bone more than I would have guessed. So many dead presidents, but how to destroy them and why, oh why, are they here hunting people down? Let’s just say that John Wilkes Booth proves to be an ally of sorts and maybe, just maybe, we have all created our own cesspool of political nastiness.
For some, the term “low budget” turns them off, but for the rest of us, President’s Day is so delightfully low budget that the lack of funds spent on the “special effects” ends up being strangely endearing. All of the actors commit to their roles with just the right amount of over the top mugging, the writing is clever and the overall tone is fun. And let’s be honest; we can all use some political humor right about now.
*Be sure to stick around for the credits.
Lisa Fremont | Twitter: @lcfremont
Images: Brain Damage Films