A review by Robert Long II ©2010
Starring: Benny McCoy, Lizzy Denning, Nicolette Le Faye, Paul Fahrenkopf, Ryan Thomas, George Stover, Andrea & Katie Hearn, Sheldon Lawrence, Shawn C Phillips, Lee Armstrong, Ruby Larocca, Jesse Layne
Screenplay by Jimmy George and Chris LaMartina
Edited by Chris LaMartina
Produced by Jimmy George and Chris LaMartina
Lincoln High is holding its student council president elections and the candidates are starting to drop like flies. It seems some maniac dressed as Abraham Lincoln is hacking his way through the student body. Each of the candidates is meeting their ends in bizarre, grotesque ways. The local police are baffled, so two of the student candidates take it upon themselves to find out who is behind the murders. The problem is that they are on Abe’s chopping block list as well!
I saw this on the big screen at the Patterson Theater in Baltimore. I left the screening very impressed. LaMartina and George have done it once again. Before this they did Book of Lore and Grave Mistakes – both well done indie films that will be reviewed here in the future. Today I am going to focus on what is probably their slickest, most professional film to date.
President’s Day is a horror/comedy slasher movie that gets it right. The staples of the genre are there: gore, nudity, suspense, and laughs. What sets this apart from so many other slashers is that it is not dumb. The story is clever AND it honestly takes a little detective work on the audience’s part to figure out who is the killer. The fun thing of it is that both of these gentlemen made sure the clues were there, but not obvious. The dialog is well-written and seems natural for all involved. And – shocker of shocks – most of the characters are really likable. I wish other writers would take a hint from the makers of this movie that not all characters have got to be unlikable jerkwads.
The acting overall was superb (with the exception of one or two actors that tended to play it too over the top). Ryan Thomas has a large role as Officer Kennedy. I have seen a lot of Ryan’s work and have worked with him on a few projects, and he usually plays the heavy. It was refreshing to see him play a different type of character in this. He gets to exhibit several different emotions as a good cop in a tough situation. Paul Fahrenkopf plays the grizzled, alcoholic detective assigned to the case, and does a great job playing opposite Thomas in their scenes. A special mention goes out for genre legend George Stover, who is absolutely superb as the fussy Mr. Wright. Lee Armstrong is hysterical as the all-knowing, paranoid janitor, and Jesse Layne as Ms. Heath adds some really nice eye candy to the mix.
How about the actors playing the students? Glad you asked! Benny McCoy as Barry carries quite a bit of the movie on his shoulders and he does it well. Lizzy Denning as Joanna (of Swarm of the Snakehead fame) comes off as a sexy, street-smart sidekick for Barry. Nicolette Le Faye does fantastic as Chelsea, the nemesis you love to hate. Shawn C. Phillips is hilarious as the Lincoln Lambs mascot.
But what of the blood and gore and sex and nudity? This is a slasher after all? Well, you get it folks. Let me put it to you this way; the Lincoln killer carries an axe. That’s not to say that he doesn’t get creative with other instruments of death – he does. The audience gets to view dismemberments, decapitations, eye gouging, burns, and a plethora of other inventive kills along the way. As to any skin shown, Jesse Layne pops her top, and another blond beauty goes in the buff as well. All the slasher ingredients are there, and then some.
Of the three films I have seen by LaMartina and George, this is by far the most polished and professional of the lot. Production values are superb when it comes to the sets, locations, props, and costumes. Technically the cinematography, editing, lighting and sound are well done. The writing shines because it is not stupid. Anybody can make a bad slasher film, but it takes skill to write a script that is funny, clever, intelligent, and suspenseful all at the same time. Chris LaMartina and Jimmy George have done just that – again.
RATING: 9 out of 10 school bells. Fun, smart, hip, and clever. Check it out once it comes out on DVD. If you like low budget horror movies that are well done, you’ll love this one.