April Fool's Day
In honor of April 1st, we’re reviewing the horror movies named for the favorite holiday of pranksters everywhere, April Fool’s Day. Over the top, cliched, melodramatic, and often poorly acted, both the original April Fool’s day in 1986 and the 2008 “remake” have their issues. However, they still prove to be fun viewing, especially if you watch them in theme with the day. So, if you’re looking for something mindlessly fun to watch this April 1st, either April Fool’s Day fits the bill.
Spoiler Level: High
Like other holiday-themed horror movies, the storyline of April Fool’s Day incorporates aspects of the holiday itself. Halloween always happens on Halloween while kids are trick-or-treating. Silent Night, Deadly Night has a killer dressed as Santa. And, I guess Friday the 13th has kids experiencing a lot of bad luck. So, April Fool’s day, naturally, centers around pranks.
While the 2008 version is touted as a remake of the 1986 “slasher”, it really isn’t anything I’d call a remake. The storyline is completely different. Honestly, that storyline change is what makes the 2008 movie the better of the two.
In the 2008 version, a prank goes wrong and leaves someone dead. A year later, everyone who participated in the prank begins being attacked, one by one. The cast of characters are all high class, rich socialites. Since the story focuses on a rich brother and sister playing twisted games with everyone, the movie conjures up memories of Cruel Intentions. However, as the plot unfolds and someone with knowledge of everyone’s part in the death from the previous year keeps toying them, the movie falls much more in line with Ryan Phillippe’s other big movie from the 90s, I Know What You Did Last Summer.
Where things differ wildly from the original is the underlying reason for the “killing” in each movie. In the original 1986 version, a group of college friends meets for a party and start getting picked off one by one. As they narrow down to the last few, they’re chased by a psycho killer “evil twin” version of one of their friends. At the last, though, as the surviving couple runs for their lives, they run into a room filled with everyone who has died throughout the movie, only they’re all still alive. The entire thing was a hoax. It wasn’t a slasher movie after all. Instead, the host of the party was starting a resort that would offer a slasher version of a murder mystery party.
Once again, in the newer version, most of the killings are a hoax. However, the purpose wasn’t for a campy reason like starting a slasher-themed mystery party. Rather, a year after the accidental death of one of their friends, the investigation into that death has gone nowhere. No one will admit their part in it. So, some of the parties come together and design an elaborate plan in which they pretend to kill each other, eventually leading to the fearful confession of the one responsible for the earlier death. Convoluted? Sure. However, as for goofy quasi-slasher fun in the theme of pranks for April 1st, it works.
I remember watching the 1986 version and being disappointed that everything was fake. I get it. It’s April Fool’s Day, and everyone got pranked, even the audience. Still, though, it seemed like a bit of a ripoff that none of it happened. It also seemed unrealistic that everyone was okay with scaring the crap out of the ones not in on the joke and that those characters took it all in stride after. I mean, if there’s one thing I want in my slasher movies, it’s realism. Like an unkillable zombie in a hockey mask. You get it.
For me, that’s what makes the 2008 version better. There was a purpose to it. It wasn’t just tomfoolery. It’s essentially a murder mystery or possibly a manslaughter mystery since there was no intent.
Whichever, it gets solved through the complex “murder spree” that leads to the true culprit of the previous year’s accidental death. Another plus in comparison to the original is that, when the big reveal happens, no one ends up being happy about it. It’s a very tense scene, which seems like the more appropriate response.
Either way and either version, these prank-filled April Fool’s Day movies are fun. While neither version is as good as slasher icons like Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween, they make for a good watch on April Fool’s Day the same way that Halloween does at Halloween.
April Fool’s Day: Which One Pranked Us Better?
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Music - 7/107/10
- Production - 7/107/10
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