President’s Day is a micro-budget Horror-Comedy helmed by Baltimore-based writer/director Chris LaMartina. It was released on President’s Day in 2010. LaMartina may be a newbie filmmaker, but he and his cast of unknown acne-plagued actors (who actually look like High School students) managed what major studios so often fail to do: Deliver a genre film that’s hip, scary, and irreverent as fuck.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: President’s Day follows a high school student council election that turns deadly when a homicidal maniac dressed as Abraham Lincoln starts killing candidates.
Lest you have any illusion that President’s Day is a piece of serious cinema, in the 90 seconds before the opening credits roll we’re already treated to boobs and brains: A young Casanova takes an axe to the head mid-cunnilingus. Now isn’t that just classy as fuck?
And the fun keeps on coming with well-paced, gory kills aplenty—and no one is safe. Think just because you’re a nice sweet girl in a wheelchair Maniac Abe Lincoln won’t chop you up? Dead wrong. President’s Day induces more genuine disgust with its messy practical effects than any major studio CGI cluster-fuck. Small touches, like a slit in the mouth of the Abe Lincoln mask where the killer flicks his tongue, go a long way. All murders are set to a break-neck psycho-billy-punk-rock soundtrack that fits the film’s atmosphere to a tee.
There’s no shortage of interesting characters in President’s Day. There’s Barry, the nice-guy protagonist who would rather get the attention of a young hottie than win the school election. Chelsea is the snaggle-tooth stuck-up-rich-bitch who is most likely a shoe-in for President—even though everybody secretly hates her. Joanna is the new girl with a secret past. There’s kindhearted Officer Kennedy and drunk-ass Detective Kurtz, an odd-couple crime-fighting duo. Even bit players like the bass-slapping principle and the demented janitor shine.
Before you go saying that President’s Day sounds like a movie for teenagers, I’ll remind you that there is a long tradition of “High School/College” films that are actually targeting adult viewers. Examples include: American Pie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Animal House, Heathers, Election—not to mention a trove of Horror offerings. There’s something about bringing our adult cynicism back to a teenage mindset that is very cathartic.
At the heart of President’s Day is a mystery: The identity of our masked villain. I’ll admit that despite my best Sherlock-ing and conjecture, I wasn’t able to crack that riddle before the reveal. It’s rare to find a film that’s both whimsical and challenging, but President’s Day does the trick.
Of course, I did wonder if perhaps there was some commentary in the sub-text, specifically a white girl named Chelsea (Chelsea Clinton?) hellbent on keeping a black guy named Barry (Barack?) from being elected president. You’ll have to decide for yourself if I’m digging too deep for meaning, but the timing is about right.
President’s Day is one of those films that proves you don’t need a lot of money to make an extremely effective and satisfying movie (like The Blair Witch Project or the first Paranormal Activity). Sure, it’s not as slick as a big-studio production, but that hardly matters when the laughs are hearty and the gore is plentiful. I look forward to whatever LaMartina has up his sleeve next.
Instead of throwing money at major-studios and distributors who often reward us with crappy, disappointing Horror, consider supporting some young, fresh talent and buy a copy of President’s Day for your collection. I did.
3.5 out of 5 Stars
|Studio||Midnight Crew Studios|
|Writer||Jimmy George & Chris LaMartina|
|Starring||Ruby LaRocca, George Stover, Shawn C Phillips, Bennie Mack McCoy IV, Nicolette Le Faye, Ryan Thomas, Lizzy Denning, Paul Fahrenkopf, Sheldon Lawrence, Laura J. Scott, Matthew Bowerman, Andrea Hearn, Katherine Hearn, Carley Cooper, Lee Armstrong|