Father's Day Movie Review
Written by ZigZag
DVD released by Troma Entertainment
Written and Directed by Astron-6
2012, 100 minutes, Not Rated
Movie released on February 10th, 2012
Adam Brooks as Ahab
Matthew Kennedy as Father John Sullivan
Conor Sweeney as Twink
Amy Groening as Chelsea
Mackenzie Murdoch as Chris Fuchman
Kevin Anderson as Father O’Flynn
Once upon a time, a man named Chris Fuchman raped and murdered several men simply because they had children. Dubbed the Father’s Day Killer, he held the city in a grip of fear until one day…he vanished. Years later a street hustler named Twink witnesses his father’s murder and is placed in the protective custody of Father John Sullivan from the local church. Father John fails at gaining Twink’s trust, but relays the information of the crime to his superior Father O’Flynn, an elderly blind priest, practically a character out of a 1980s Italian horror film, who recognizes the work of Fuchman and instructs the young priest to track down their only hope, a one-eyed avenger named Ahab.
Once a man on a mission to avenge the murder of his own paterfamilias, Ahab now lives as a recluse following a 10-year prison sentence for killing the wrong person. Father John convinces Ahab to resume his pursuit — since Fuchman has indeed returned — and with the help of some powerful maple syrup metaphors, Ahab is back on the case. We are next introduced to Ahab’s sister Chelsea, a stripper who has picked up the quest to kill Fuchman despite her brother’s wishes. Twink comes to her for protection, but the Father’s Day Killer follows them to her apartment and attacks. Ahab and Father John set out with Twink on a mission to stop the killing once and for all, but get more than they bargained for when they learn the truth behind the identity of the Father’s Day Killer.
I heard the buzz surrounding this film long before I saw it and hoped that if nothing else it would prompt Troma to move on that Blu-ray edition of Mother’s Day they’ve had sitting on the shelf for a few years now while waiting for the remake to get a release (the remake is out, guys…I’m still waiting for the original). When the first trailers turned up for Father’s Day, the internet feedback was strong enough to garner the lion’s share of Troma’s annual advertising budget. When the screener turned up on my doorstep, I was curious, but waited until I was able to watch with a group of friends. The reactions were decidedly mixed.
My initial response was weak, but I felt there was a good movie saddled under the weight of a bloated running time, forced jokes and sloppy tonal shifts. I decided to watch it again on my own before tackling this review and I am really glad I did. While I shouldn’t have to watch a movie repeatedly to gather the strength to write a review, this one benefits greatly from repeat viewing. Something clicked the second time around and I was really behind the spirit of the film. Father’s Day is two parts The Taint (a massive compliment) and one part Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey; an odd mixture, but stick with it and enjoy the ride.
The gang behind the Canadian production company, Astron-6, are the same faces found in front of the camera, too. They have paid such attention to detail of underground cinema from the glorious 1970s and ‘80s that film-nerds will find themselves smiling frequently as the mayhem plays across the screen. The company logo is reminiscent of the old Lightning Home Video and the entire ‘Up All Night’ style presentation, complete with VHS noise-rainbows and tracking issues, really works to the advantage of the flick, more than the now-standard optical scratches, dirt and film damage that associate it with the time period.
The script contains a surprising amount of character development, usually an early casualty of low-budget cinema. Characters are well rounded and cross paths to form alliances in a natural manner without feeling forced or contrived. Fuchman, the Father’s Day Killer, suffers from a questionable M.O. for his choice of victims. Instead of going after members of the clergy, he instead is willing to kill any man who has a child and any woman that gets in his way. There is an end-game at play, so I won’t knock it too hard, and it is nice that one supporting character is killed moments after revealing that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant.
While the acting caliber is occasionally lacking, cast performances are generally solid, especially from our trio of heroes that carry the picture. The comedic timing is strong enough to forgive other shortcomings along the way and is most successful in the form of casual one-liners or the quirky traits that are par for the course. Everything is played straight, which is crucial for maintaining the whack-factor of having all other elements presented at their most jarring levels.
Father’s Day also succeeds in the category of cinematography and the often extreme use of the color palette. There are some striking images beyond the gross-out moments that come out of left field for such a gonzo-themed joyride. The opening titles sequence deserves special mention as a perfect way to set the tone for what will follow over the next 90 minutes. The gore is both simple and effective in gaining the desired repulsive reaction, while the visual effects are very deliberately cheesy good fun. The best examples of low-rent special f/x can be found in a coming attractions trailer buried within the course of the movie.
The final act feels a bit out of sync with the rest of the picture but works on its own merits. It is exhausting with the final-lap introductions of stop-motion animation, numerous sight gags (including a sly nod to Return of the Jedi) and a surprisingly solid performance from Troma president Lloyd Kaufman. Audiences may leave the film feeling a bit beaten up, but Father’s Day succeeds as a love letter to the type of film that would play on late night cable long ago.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.