April Fool's Day Reviews
The movie does have a twist ending, but I didn't find it really shocking, and it's not really the kind of ending that would elicit shocks anyway. When the movie wasn't showing anyone dying, I knew what to expect.
I could overlook the lack of violence and blood if the movie was funny. I believe it's supposed to be a comedy, but there are no jokes except for the gags that the characters play on each other (which aren't really supposed to make the audience laugh anyway). If this movie were funny, then I wouldn't have any problems with this movie and what they were attempting to do. I liked the cast well enough and the set up, but I just didn't enjoy the movie.
On on hand, I admired the freshness and the emphasis on story over gore. There is very little blood here, so little in fact that the "R" rating seems kind of unwarranted. On the other hand, however, pacing is not director Fred Walton's strong suit and the film is slow-going a lot of the way. Many of the clues that lead up to the twist ending are definite red herrings that make no sense or have nothing to do with the big reveal. And getting to that extravagantly plotted finale relies on far too many coincidences, moments in the film where the characters have to do the right thing at the right time in order to keep the plot moving on its path. There are just too many holes in the plan, and frankly, the movie is not half as fun as it thinks it is.
I enjoyed the young cast, most notably Clayton Rohner and Deborah Goodrich as the group's liveliest couple, but you just can't help feeling let down by the ending. When it's all said and done, you're left with more puzzling questions than answers, like the newspaper clippings or the tape playing the crying baby had to do with anything. One could assume that they were simple ploys to throw the characters (and the audience) off balance. They worked, but in this case, that wasn't necessarily a positive thing. I admired "April Fool's Day" for trying something different, but for a film like this to work, it has to be better executed that this one is.
Facing the same basic and generic roots of essentially all other slasher films, the appeal in April Fool's Day is very limited. While fans of the series may rejoice at it for not being as pathetically crafted as many others, overall it still isn't great entertainment.
The repetitive nature of April Fool's Day as a slasher film is the breaking point for it. It follows a basic and routine slasher film plot which has been told many times before while it plays around with the audiences as they attempt to dictate who the killer is. The realistaion at the end damages the entire experience, and up until then it is a fairly routine effort. I will admit though that April Fool's Day did have some decent elements to it.
For one thing the scenery in the film was appealing because it is shot on some fairly nice locations which capture a sense of isolation, although the film never uses excessively dark lighting in a desperate attempt to enhance its atmosphere and instead allows it to unfold naturally. The viewer may or may not feel it depending on their stance on the genre, but I guess it was ok, and the cinematography captured everything fairly nicely without getting shaky or rough. And April Fool's Day does manage to rack up a lot of killing with sufficient blood and gore for most of the time over the course of its 89 minute running time. So from a visual perspective, April Fool's Day isn't too bad. Its superior qualities are definitely in its visual style, so it seems to be the one thing that director Fred Walton got right in making April Fool's Day.
Although, the pace of everything is fairly slow and there isn't really enough deaths or clever plot dynamics to justify that. There is really nothing that April Fool's Day can do to transcend being a generic slasher film except give itself a ridiculous twist ending, and so that is exactly what happens with it. But unlike the twist endings in slasher films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th or even Sleepaway Camp, April Fool's Day has an ending which is too ridiculous for its own good.
The thing that needs to be mentioned in April Fool's Day is its twist ending. So spoiler alert, this is where I'm going to discuss it. As a means of separating itself from all other basic slasher films, April Fool's Day implements in a twist ending where the story reveals everything to have been a lie. All the murders have actually been acted out as an April fool's day joke in preparation for turning the location of the story into a resort which offers a weekend of stage horror. The lack of sensibility in that is what makes it a standout film and reveals the endeavour of all the stupidity in the plot. Up until then, April Fool's Day was a basic slasher film. After that, it is nothing more than a joke. Usually in a slasher film, audiences expect to get some kind of gruesome ending or clever discovery of who the killer is. In April Fool's Day, the story just ends very abruptly midway through what could have been a decent slasher movie climax and instead resulted in being just a stupid black comedy. And the ending is just so stupid and so unbelievable that it gives a bad name to the entire movie. Danilo Bach thought what he was doing was clever when he wrote the story, but it is audiences who have to suffer because of it. Everything collapses in the end due to the ridiculousness of the ending, the fact that it is completely illogical and finally the fact that it does not fit into the slasher film context and therefore attempts to reinvent the film as a black comedy. If you wanted to make a slasher film that was a black comedy, you play on the humourous elements of the characters and their deaths in an original way. You don't write in some crappy M. Night Shyamalan ending and expect everyone to have a laugh and consider it original. That isn't something that Danilo Bach could realise, but it isn't difficult for audiences to do it and it wont be difficult for them to find April Fool's Day to be a severe disappointment because of that. That man was actually nominated for an Academy Award two years prior for penning the screenplay to Beverly Hills cop alongside Daniel Petrie Jr., but it can only be presumed that most of the work was done by him instead of Danilo Bach because anyone who thinks that April Fool's Day has a plot that is clever and funny cannot be trusted to write comedy, especially comedy that is as critically acclaimed as Beverly Hills Cop.
The only other slight redeeming feature that April Fool's Day boasts is its cast. While it certainly doesn't have any of them projected sufficient nudity for a film which is of the slasher genre, by the standards of the genre the acting isn't too bad. While the cast themselves aren't fully memorable, they give decent efforts led by the effective performance of Deborah Foreman. Managing to succeed in playing two characters who have different natures to them, Deborah Foreman successfully tricks audiences into believing that both Muffy and Buffy are two different characters. And while the realisation that this was all a lie is likely to frustrate audiences, Deborah Foreman successful manages to trick viewers into believing the lie in the story so she deserves praise for her efforts in the role.
So despite having some visual appeal and being fairly well acted, April Fool's Day collapses under its routine story and the fact that the twist ending is one of the dumbest I have ever seen, falling into an M. Night Shyamalan style of story writing.
- Every special calendar day has its own horror film, just think of 'Halloween', 'Friday the 13th', 'My Bloody Valentine' and 'Black Christmas. 'April Fool's Day' from 1986 is an addition to the list. In this horror mystery directed by Fred Walton (When a Stanger Calls), a group of young adults are invited on a island mansion of their friend Muffy to spend the weekend of April Fool's Day. One by one they are taken out by a mysterious killer. All of the necessary ingredients for a slasher film, including the pranks and interesting plot twist, made this 'April Fool's Day' a enjoyable movie. It also had a 2008 remake, which was not so successful. Don't let the joke be on you...
A group of college friends (cameraman Chaz, sexy Nikki, lovers Kit and Rob, jock Archie, jokester Skip, bookish Nan and pompous Harvey) gather on a pier, where a ferry will take them to an island where they have been invited to spend the weekend in the house of their wealthy friend, Muffy St. John. On route, Archie and Skip are playing with a knife. When Skip gets stabbed and falls in the water, Rob and ferry-help Buck jump after him. Then Archie and Skip reveal that it was all a prank. Buck stays in the water to help dock the ferry, but get squashed between the vessel and a wooden pole. The man comes out with his eye out of his socked and blames the guys. A nearby policeman, who saw the accident happen takes the wounded Buck away.
Arriving at the mansion, their host shows them around. She loves pranks and has prepared a little extra in each bedroom. While the group settles in and joins Muffy at the dinner table, Skip feels guilty and starts drinking. During the night he goes missing. When the guests are searching for him, another one disappears. Someone on the island doesn't like the pranks and kills them of one by one. Who is responsible? And who will survive April Fool's Day?
Eight college-age young adults travel to a friend's mansion on a remote island.
The place is loaded with practical jokes: dirty water from the kitchen tap, turning off one light turns on another, a tap in a room sprays the user, S&M gear in the chest of drawers, newspaper clippings left where they are meant to be found; that sort of thing.
Of course, the ferry does not come everyday, and the cops are not easily available. It seems like three of them get killed early on, but then other evidence denies that. For example, Rob talks to the cops by phone, indicating Buck is dead. Cop replies, I'm looking at Buck, alive, right now, in the hospital. Inspires confidence, eh? Something is clearly wrong with the narrative, but the pacing gets rushed, and nobody seems to notice.
The elimination derby continues, or is it just trickery?
Cinematography: 6/10 As viewed on Netflix streaming, the visual quality was better than VHS quality, but not by much.
Sound: 6/10 The dynamic range was way too large.
Acting: 6/10 Mediocre. Some actors were fairly skilled, but others were downright poor.
Screenplay: 5/10 Has a beginning, middle, and a sharp turn at the end. Those who enjoy practical jokes will probably like this one more than I did.