Founders Day

Founders Day
Founders Day
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Founders Day doesn’t dive deep into character, but it does plunge — literally — a masked killer stabbing people with a knife hidden in the gavel they’re using as a weapon. That’s just part of the frenetic events happening in small town Fairwood during this latest masked slasher film, which eschews meatier character motivations and keeps its bloody feet planted firmly in the horror comedy subgenre.

And that’s not a bad thing if you’re looking for a quick fix with your masked murderers. Directed by Erik Bloomquist, who wrote and produced the film with his brother Carson under their Mainframe Pictures banner, it scratches an itch. It’s not the best movie to come out of this genre in recent years — let alone the worst — but it checks off many boxes as it prompts frequent OMGs as blood splatters and victims run for their lives.

Basically, it’s Scream at a tricentennial founders day celebration on the eve of a divisive mayoral election. Touching on political divides, tight friendships, familial alliances and queer acceptance among other themes, the film stars Devin Druid (13 Reasons Why), Naomi Grace (NCIS), Amy Hargreaves (13 Reasons Why), William Russ (Boy Meets World), Catherine Curtin (Stranger Things), Emilia McCarthy (Skymed), Olivia Nikkanen (Supergirl) and others. Between the killer’s grotesque theater mask and dangerous gavel, to his ferocity when delivering kills – Founders Day is one hell of a fun thrill ride.

From jump street director Erik Bloomquist shows viewers they are in capable hands. Bloomquist takes us right into the action – just before everyones most coveted Founders Day weekend celebration — When teenaged Melissa (Olivia Nikkanen) is brutally murdered by a masked robed killer who is gavel-giddy. Sort-of girlfriend Allison watches on in horror before rushing back into town and in the thick of a political protest.

About those… Bloomquist also hopes to look at how scary todays political climate can be. Even in a small town like Fairwood, where so much seems to be at stake with the mayoral election. incumbent mayor Blair Gladwell naturally wants to keep her seat. Opponent Harold Faulkner (Jayce Bartok) is banking on offering “change.” He was a bit of a slimeball before his daughter Melissa became the first victim of a series of gruesome killings. The aftermath of his daughters attack and mysterious disappearance has only put him more on edge. Bartok tends to play things way over the top, so much so you may find yourself screaming at him more than the killer.

That said, overreactions happen big time throughout Founders Day — which is one thing that weighs the film down. Sure, there’s a lot at stake for the residents of this town — life itself actually — but sometimes, less is more. Tossed into the mix is 13 Reasons Why breakout actor Devin Druid playing Adam Faulkner, Melissa’s brother and Harold’s estranged son. The actor morphs into yet another brooding teen role just fine – and his interaction with Grace’s Allison hits the mark.

If you want to see gore and lots of it, Founders Day is the movie for you. Like It’s a Wonderful Knife before it, this film wrings out the madness of a small town. The autumn atmosphere naturally lends itself to a good number of dark-night surprises, and Bloomquist doesn’t shy away from taking several attack scenes to their nastiest extremes. Every Scream wanted everybody in every Scream to scream more — that’s the kind of slasher we’re dealing with here. Political wig, gavel, judge’s robe — whoever came up with the killer’s clever spin deserves some credit. It keeps things funny and fierce throughout all its warpath vengeance.

So this person is targeting children who have some connection to mayoral candidates. Why? Ultimately not really something audiences are gonna care very much about. It’s just what makes these killings possible.

Bloomquist works well with his costars, too. Tyler James White is hunky bad boy Rob; Kate Edmonds is Britt, your stereotypical angsty and edgy teen who seems like she probably can’t be trusted either. Andrew Stewart-Jones brings some much-needed level-headedness as Allison’s father Thomas… but Catherine Curtin steals scenes left and right as Commissioner Peterson, the gruff law enforcement official who’s had enough of everybody’s wackadoo s**t.

An ‘Us vs Them’ vibe runs through the whole movie — and Bloomquist keeps turning up the dial on it as things go along. Maybe too much so… We get it: It’s 2024, and everybody is overreacting to something (especially when it comes to political/social issues). It strains credulity that things could have gone so wrong in this seemingly secluded small-town enclave — but hey, America in the 2020s, go figure. Aside from these overt creative pushes, Founders Day will satisfy even the most jaded slasher film fan. At its best, this movie is riding wonderfully off its own reckless ambition. Enjoy the bloodbath.

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