Wednesday, January 27, 2010

President's Day (2010)

You know what I think? That you can never have enough holiday-themed horror movies! So I eagerly looked forward to watching President’s Day! An added bonus is that it’s helmed by filmmaker Chris LaMartina, whose previous films, Book of Lore and Grave Mistakes, we raved about. LaMartina continues his winning streak with President’s Day, a fun indie film that’s a throwback to classic ’80s slashers!

The plot is pretty simple: A killer dressed like Abraham Lincoln is murdering high schoolers who are running for student council. Barry (Bennie Mack McCay IV) joins the race to get closer to new student and fellow candidate Joanna (Lizzy Denning), but finds himself embroiled in a mystery where everyone is a suspect, including snotty popular girl Chelsea (Nicolette Faye), the sleazy janitor (Lee Armstrong) and Officer Kennedy (Ryan Thomas). Can Barry figure out who the killer is before its his turn to get axed?

Chris LaMartina (who directed and co-wrote) again proves that he is a major talent to watch with President’s Day! First off, the film looks fantastic – it has excellent lighting, interesting shots and overall looks extremely professional. It definitely takes skill and talent to make an independent feature, and it’s safe to say LaMartina has both in spades! This is one filmmaker that you actually want to see more from!

Secondly, the story, written by LaMartina and Jimmy George, is simple but throws enough red herrings throughout (that are actually believable) to keep you on your toes. When the final reveal comes as to the killer’s identity, I was actually surprised! And it wasn’t some random character, either, but actually made logical sense! I also enjoyed how each of the characters was developed just enough, and while some of them were stereotypes of high school students, this actually worked with the comedic aspects of the film. I especially liked one particular scene that shows all the stereotypes when Barry is trying to get some information from the students…it definitely made me giggle!

The comedy in the film is never overpowering, though, and there are plenty of horrific kills throughout the film! I was impressed with the films high body count – A LOT of people, kids, and even pets get killed! I especially liked the death of a jock involving a trophy and another one involving a goth girl getting an eye gouged out! The film doesn’t discriminate against the crippled either…the first kill features a wheelchair-bound candidate getting axed! My only complaint is that the kills were a bit anti-climactic and were pretty quick.

Still, that is a tiny complaint in comparison to how I felt about the high quality of the film. Even the acting, usually one of the weakest points for an indie production, blew me away! Every single actor was phenomenal and I couldn’t pick a bad performance out of the bunch! This wasn’t a simple production with just a few lead characters, either, but required the talents of numerous actors, both lead, supporting and extras. I was impressed by the talent of the large cast and the ability of LaMartina to really direct all the actors so that they gave the best possible performances.

President’s Day is a fun throwback film that is well-made, well-acted and just a joy to watch! This again proves that indie filmmaker Chris LaMartina is one talent to watch!

President’s Day will premiere at the Charles Theater in Baltimore on (what else) President’s Day, February 15th, 2010.

For more info, visit President’s Day on Facebook and Twitter!

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