My notes on April Fool’s Day (2008)
Though credited as a remake of Fred Walton’s 1986 slasher charade, this feels more like something that could be put out on DVD as a tardy April Fool’s Day II – it has a rough plot similarity with the original (a party that goes wrong, pranks, shallow kid characters, a twist at the end), but no characters or specific story points recur. ‘The Butcher Brothers’ (Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores), who made the fairly grim and grungy The Hamiltons, at least show their versatility by moving upscale in milieu and presenting glossy, unlikeable Carolina debutantes and society wasters, with mansions and swimming pools and interpersonal viciousness that evokes Cruel Intentions. The directors also show loyalty by casting most of the actors from The Hamiltons, who scrub up well to play soap opera-look socialites. Desiree Cartier (Taylor Cole) and her brother Blaine (Josh Henderson), whose family are supposed to be ‘the Carolina Kennedys’, hold an April Fool’s Day coming-out ball for their friend Torrance (Scout Taylor-Compton, of the Halloween remake) at which model-thin philanthropiste Milan (Sabrina Aldridge), whom Desiree despises, is killed during a prank.
A year on, with no one held to account, the Cartiers and several of their more or less culpable friends receive summonses to Milan’s grave and I Know What You Did Last Summer-style ominous notes, then start getting killed off. The thoroughly bitchy Desiree becomes the protagonist, which is one major clue as to the direction the film is taking, and genuinely seems racked with guilt and torment as people she know get killed in fairly mild manners for a slasher movie, which is another tipoff as to what’s really going down. Given the setup and the title, the ending is apparent from a long way off, but plays out decently with a couple of added twists thrown in to take the sting off the familiarity. Most of the characters are thoroughly horrible – a self-involved former beauty queen (Jennifer Siebel), a grinning junior Republican politician (Samuel Child), a camcordering obsessive voyeur (Joe Egender), a ‘social-climbing fag’ gossip columnist (Joseph McKelheer) – and could actually do with nastier fates than they receive.
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