Founders Day Review
Founders Day (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Erik Bloomquist, written by Carson Bloomquist and Erik Bloomquist and starring Naomi Grace, Devin Druid, William Russ, Amy Hargreaves, Catherine Curtin, Emilia McCarthy, Olivia Nikkanen, Jayce Bartok, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Tyler James White, Adam Weppler, Kate Edmonds, Dylan Slade, Arun Storrs, Patrick Zeller, Shravan Amin, Callie Beaulieu and Erik Bloomquist.
The latest movie attempting to cash in on Scream‘s enormous popularity by sheer imitation is Erik Bloomquist’s Founders Day. This film meanders a lot of the time but saves face with a major plot twist audiences probably won’t see coming even though some of the surprises that are revealed could be predicted by movie-goers who have seen one too many horror movies. Still, the secrets which are unveiled towards the end keep Bloomquist’s mediocre horror flick tolerable and worth seeing for die-hard fans of slasher films.
This film opens with a couple of lovers named Allison Chambers (Naomi Grace) and Melissa Faulkner (the very well-cast Olivia Nikkanen). Melissa’s dad, Harold (Jayce Bartok) is running for mayor in their small town. His opponent is Blair Gladwell (Amy Hargreaves), a tough-as-nails competitor who looks likely to win the race. Before the opening credits come on, Melissa gets bumped off by a masked killer who tosses her body off a bridge in front of Allison. Afterwards, Allison suffers from trauma regarding the terrifying event. It doesn’t help when a couple of classmates (Dylan Slade and Kate Edmonds) stage a fake murder attack in Allison’s school which further makes Allison fearful.
William Russ serves as a teacher named Mr. Jackson who accepts a political term paper from Allison even after the horrifying murder she witnessed. The plot develops as more people start to get bumped off by the aforementioned masked psycho, including Blair’s daughter, Lilly (Emilia McCarthy). The local townsfolk (including one resident played by Bloomquist himself) are on the trail of the psychopath. But, when Allison witnesses Melissa’s brother (Devin Druid) writing creepy stuff on the blackboard at school after Slade and Edmonds’ characters are killed, things get very complicated. Thinking the brother is the killer, Allison’s dad (Andrew Stewart-Jones) murders the brother in self-defense. Things get even more complicated from that point on with many twists thrown in willy-nilly, some of which are actually quite interesting to behold.
Thrown into the middle of all this is the lollipop sucking Commissioner Peterson (Catherine Curtin) who has to make some decisions herself about what is going on amidst all this lunacy which is occurring in the town around election time.
Founders Day has all the markings of becoming another Scream. However, in the grand scheme of things, the director, Bloomquist, comes up a little short. This is an imitation game where it’s hard to be original all the way through. Yet, the final moments of the movie are brilliantly conceived. It’s almost impossible to see the major reveal at the end coming even if you’ve predicted a little of it right from the outset.
There are some stand-out performances here from the attractive cast. Naomi Grace is very easy to root for and William Russ as her teacher has an every man quality that makes his role all the more believable. Stewart-Jones as Allison’s dad also gets some intense moments that work well for the movie. This is really Olivia Nikkanen’s calling card to Hollywood, though. Nikkanen has a brief role in the film but makes her scenes count with tremendous energy and some vigor put into her performance.
Though the politics of Founders Day are all over the place, the movie tries to make a statement at the end about the reality of elections and the underhandedness that exists in said elections. The ending leaves the door open for a sequel, but this movie really should just be a standalone single film. That’s because there’s no way a followup movie could be as twisty as this one successfully. Though Founders Day has tons of problems from some sluggish pacing in the middle to mediocre acting by many supporting cast members, horror film buffs could eat this picture up thanks to the ending.
In the end, Founders Day has left a calling card for director Erik Bloomquist. He may be able to do something different and intriguing with a Hollywood budget and this movie is a stepping stone to potentially bigger projects for the ambitious director. Hopefully, Olivia Nikkanen gets a bigger role in her next movie because she has the kind of no-nonsense approach to the material that gives her a quality that makes it impossible to look away when she’s on screen.
You’ll be surprised by Founders Day‘s final moments. Whether you want to sit through an average mid-to-low budget slasher film to get to see those intensely fabulous scenes is up to you.
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