April Fool’s Day (2008)
An interesting oddity recently occurred. The day after the “re-imagining” of April Fool’s Day was released, I added it to my Netflix list. I was in no great hurry to see the film, as I was never a big fan of the original, and I’d heard some truly atrocious things about this new take; besides, every time I add a brand new release to my queue, I get the “Very Long Wait” notice. But here’s the odd part: April Fool’s Day had no wait at all. Two days after its release, I had the movie in my apartment.
The inference I drew was obvious: Nobody– and I mean NOBODY– wanted to see this movie. In the age of the horror remake, where the critically reviled Prom Night redux just finished #1 at the box office, fans had turned their backs on April Fool’s Day. Hell, even the studio responsible for its distribution didn’t seem to care; Sony dumped it straight to DVD, without any extras of note. Considering the general apathy for the movie, I pondered for a moment whether I should even put it into my player. But morbid curiosity got the best of me, and so I watched. And not surprisingly, I joined the throng and didn’t really care much about April Fool’s Day.
I’ll spare you all the arguments against the current remake craze in horror. You’ve read them all, and suffice it to say I agree with every one. But the new April Fool’s Day is so appallingly bland on its own, you don’t even need to apply said arguments to be bored with it. For those who are fans of the original, however, let me say this. I always thought it was a one trick pony; once I got to the end, I wasn’t so taken by the twist. But at least that version tried to generate some scares, even if those were cheap ones.
The new version bypasses scares altogether In fact, watching the first forty minutes or so, I would never have suspected I was watching a horror film at all. The tone is all wrong. Scary music, tension through acting, a terrifying plot, all these have been replaced with a the overall mood of a soap opera. As the end credits rolled, I seriously wondered if the powers that be had aimed to create a CW episode of One Tree House on Haunted Hill.
Adding to the soap opera feel are the characters. Or more accurately, the one dimensional caricatures. There’s the bitchy debutante , only concerned with her social status and bank account; her brother, the philandering playboy; a senator who’s way too young to be the RA in a college dorm; his aging wife, who must be all of 20; Scout Compton Taylor (have a fun career on the Sci Fi channel, Scout!); and some dude with a camera who wants to document events (Wes Bentley, you were much creepier). The only role not churned out of the Generic Stereotype Generator is the gay rich kid who can’t swim (I can’t even make this stuff up, folks). These characters meet to induct Scout into some social clique. Another character, the easily drugged “hot” blonde, arrives. Some of the characters dope her so they can film her in bed as a hateful April Fool’s joke. When she plummets off the balcony, they find themselves in a whole heap of trouble, especially a year later when it looks as if she’s returned to knock them all off.
This movie takes an even worse turn here. Having established the bitchy debutante as just that, the film asks the audience to sympathize with her, as all her friends are dying violently around her. I’m sorry, but this is a girl who drugged someone for her own amusement and caused her death. If this were an EC comic, she’d get her just desserts as the dead girl rose from the grave, a zombie stalking her. Alas, this is just a really bland movie, so I didn’t even get my zombie fix. Instead, I get a lame plot twist at the end, one which would have driven me to hate all these characters, if only I’d cared about them to begin with.
Extras, you ask? No, folks, it would have taken some exertion to cull them for the disc. This is a lazy effort throughout, so all you get is about a dozen trailers that don’t include one for this movie, and French subtitles. Yes, French subtitles. Apparently, Sony’s apathy for this project ran so deep that they didn’t even bother to include them in English.
As I removed the disc from my player, it occurred to me again that nobody– and I mean NOBODY– cared about this film. Not the directors, not the writers, not the studio, and most certainly not me. I’d say you’d do best to avoid this flick, but then, you already have. Because you don’t care either.