April Fool's Day (1986) **
D: Fred Walton
C: Deborah Foreman, Amy Steel, Ken Olandt, Clayton Rohner, Griffin O'Neal, Thomas F. Wilson, Leah Pinsent, Deborah Goodrich, Jay Baker
Plot Synopsis: A group of college aged friends gathered on an isolated island for an April Fool's Day themed retreat weekend are picked off one by one by a killer.
Review: April Fool's Day will forever go down in horror movie history as that film with the twist ending. Even to this day, I still remember my initial reaction to the ending. It truly surprised me in a way that few others have. Simply put, I didn't see it coming! However, an ending can't make a movie. It can enhance it or even break it, but it's not enough to hang an entire movie onto. With that said, how does the film's other elements stand up?
Now, before we get to that, let's talk about the plot. A group of friends gather on an isolated island where someone begins to pick them off. It's the type of island that's cut off from the rest of the world. On top of that, the phones don't work, naturally! Before I can even say April Fool's Day, a killer is picking everyone off. The premise is reminiscent of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (AKA: Ten Little Indians), but executed in an 80's teen slasher kind of way with occasional bits of humor thrown in.
When it comes to the premise, April's Fools Day only presents one red herring. Without the red herring plot device, no real suspense is achieved from trying to guess the identity of the killer. As for the slasher elements, part of the fun comes in watching the killer play cat & mouse with the victims to be. Since all of the death sequences take place off screen, there's no real cat & mouse interactions. In regards to the humor, there are moments that generate a chuckle or two, but nothing laugh out loud worthy.
And then, there's the cast. It's an impressive lineup of well liked actors. You have Amy Steel who played the final girl in Friday the 13th Part 2, Thomas F. Wilson who memorably played Biff in the Back to the Future franchise, Deborah Foreman who achieved orgasmic delight in being whipped by the Marquis de Sade in Waxwork & Clayton Rohner who played the shy love interest in Just One of the Guys. All of these actors stood out, because they were given a role that they could bring a sense of personality to. Here, they're not so much characters, but props that are used to either be picked off, to run around in histrionics or to give suspicious glances when called upon.
This gets me to my overall predicament with April Fool's Day. It's an ending in search of a film. While the people behind this are careful to lay out a foundation for the ending, they forget about everything else from fleshing out the premise, to the humor, to the suspense, to even giving us one remotely interesting character. [R] 89 mins.
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