Troma // 2012 // 99 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // March 16th, 2012
Lock up your fathers.
There is a point at which a certain kind of movie tries too hard to be a "cult" movie and begins to ring totally false. It's true of a lot of the current wave of wannabe "grindhouse" movies, from Snakes on a Plane to Drive Angry to Machete -- all proof that cult movies cannot be faked.
There are moments in Troma's new horror comedy, Father's Day, that walk this line a little too closely, as it alternates between being a manufactured oddity and the real f'ing deal. The movie plays the game better than most -- it's couched as a matinee showing on a grade-Z movie channel (complete with fake intro at the beginning and commercial break halfway between) -- but is so self-aware that it can sometimes be self-conscious, too. Written and directed by a collective calling themselves Astron-6, Father's Day, stars Conor Sweeney as Twink, a male prostitute whose father is brutally raped and murdered before his eyes. He teams up with a vengeance-crazed, one eyed man named Ahab (Adam Brooks, who steals the movie), whose own father was also murdered, and a priest by the name of Father John (Matthew Kennedy) to track down and stop the Father's Day Killer (Mackenzie Murdock). Their journey goes to places you could never imagine, but saying anything more would spoil the surprising turns the movie takes.
By now, filmgoers know what to expect from a Troma movie, but even by that studio's insane standards of sex, gore and outrageous imagery, Father's Day is as extreme as movies come. There are things in the movie that one will never be able to un-see, and the only thing that makes the worst moments even tolerable (though I'd be lying if I said I didn't have to look away a couple of times during several scenes of genital trauma, shot in close-up) is that the movie doesn't really take itself seriously. Those two things -- a deranged sense of humor and a willingness to be more depraved than just about any movie ever has been -- are what ultimately make the movie work, assuming you're willing to accept the argument that the movie "works." Though it never reaches the deliriously gory, slapstick heights of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, this is a funny movie, made that much funnier because the actors basically play it straight. At times we laugh purely as a defense mechanism -- we can't believe what we are seeing; other times, we laugh because the film's attitude seems at odds with the depravity it showcases.
Father's Day is also kind of a mess. It goes on about twenty minutes too long, and though the last-act detour is crazy and welcome, it probably could have come a little sooner in the movie. There's both too much and not enough story to sustain the running time -- but, again, this isn't really a movie interested in telling a "story," per se, as it is about eliciting a reaction in the viewer (it does) and giving audiences who are fans of this kind of movie something they've never seen before (it will). To be honest, something like Father's Day is pretty much critic proof. I can try and articulate my reaction (I'm not even really sure I can do that much), but the audience for the movie has already made up its mind whether or not they're going to see it. Depending on your tastes, neither decision is the wrong one.
The version of Father's Day I saw was a screener sent by Troma, meaning I cannot comment on the quality of the finished video and audio. It contained no special features, though I'm sure the final version will.
Father's Day is being rolled out in limited theatrical release across the country over the next few months, most likely in midnight showings. That's about right for a movie like this, since you'll want to see it with an audience (if for no other reason than for the reactions during some of the grosser moments) who's pumped to see it, laughing and cheering in all the right spots. It should be out on DVD and Blu-ray later this year, though seeing it alone in your living room will likely diminish some of the movie's impact. If it sounds like your bag -- and you'd better be sure, because the movie takes the words "not for everyone" to new heights -- make it a point to see it in a theater.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site