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April Fool's Day (2008)

  • Review: ½ * (out of ****)
  • Starring: Taylor Cole, Josh Henderson, Scout Taylor-Compton, Joe Egender, Jennifer Siebel, Samuel Child, Joseph McKelheer, Frank Aard, Sabrina Aldridge
  • Director: The Butcher Brothers
  • Screenplay: Mikey Wigart, Danilo Bach
  • Length: 91 min.
  • MPAA Rating: R

It goes without saying that remaking well liked films is an ill-advised idea, but some filmmakers still believe it's worth attempting. Case in point is the update of the cult horror classic April Fool's Day.

Bringing the story into a modern setting, Desiree Cartier (Taylor Cole) and her brother Blaine (Josh Henderson) have decided to play an April Fool's joke on one of their socialite friends Milan Hastings (Sabrina Aldridge). When the joke goes horribly awry and she topples over the balcony and dies in a headlong collision with a buffet table, the incident is ruled an accident and the teens move on with their lives.

One year later, those present for the incident are being killed off one-by-one by a killer whom Desiree believes to be Milan's ghost. The story revolves around the attempt to solve the crime and bring the murderer to justice.

If you're already familiar with the original 1986 version, you may early on expect there to be a twist at the end wherein all those who were killed on Milan's death anniversary are actually alive and it's all an elaborate April Fool's Day joke on one of the main characters. There is a twist, but it's not exactly what you're expecting.

When I first saw April Fool's Day, I had an immensely entertaining time. It was the late 1980s and I was getting my hands on all manners of horror flicks (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and others). It was a shock for a horror fan as most films of the era were generally thought of as cautionary tales against the youthful indulgences of the characters. In this case, that premise is amplified in the nature of the killings, but when the twist comes to reveal the, all the joy and purpose of the holiday bursts forth.

This new update, however, fails in every way to recapture that idea. Focused more on the grizzly nature of the killings and the moral bankruptcy of the leads, directors The Butcher Brothers live up to their names by destroying what wasn't even a decent concept in the first place. The acting is atrocious, the plotting horrible (further shame goes to original screenwriter Danilo Bach who contributed to this mess) and the effects more lame than the ham-fisted ones displayed during the g(l)ory days of the eighties. And when your most famous star is the guy in the bizarre-law Diet Mountain Dew commercials (Joe Egender), you know you've got problems.

Worse still is the absence of any vestige of its predecessor. The 1986 feature was about a well-liked rich kid who sets up an elaborate scheme to kill off her friends. This new feature is still about a rich kid, but this one not-so-well-liked, and the scheme has absolutely nothing to do with the original's murder mystery theme and more to do with revenge killings (like other 80s cult classics like Prom Night and Friday the 13th).

With all the series reboots coming out for the genre (Halloween is already completed and both Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street are on their way), it's not unexpected for a film of this notoriety to earn its re-development. But there are limits to this kind of action and thankfully the studio pulled the plug and pushed this stinker directly to video where it hopefully won't develop the cult following of the original film. And perhaps studio executives will look at this as a sign that not all that glittered will become gold again.