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DVD ReviewApril Fool's Day is a witty horror movie that adds a refreshing spin on a genre that I had lost faith in a long time ago. While the film's title is actually a bit too clever, the story is an interesting journey with a satisfying destination. What I believed was going to be just another ludicrous mad slasher picture ended up satisfying the suspense lover in me.
The simple premise involves a group of college friends who spend a weekend together at a secluded island cottage. While slightly more intelligent, these kids are not unlike the one-dimensional characters found in one of the Friday the 13th films. The film takes its time introducing these characters, but unfortunately, not much is learned about them aside from the fact that they have sex on the brain. This long setup is a disappointment for what could have been a good chance to invoke interesting discussions between these long time friends. Instead, we spend half an hour learning almost nothing at all, and ironically, I found myself getting a bit antsy waiting for the first violent act! The payoff is worthwhile, but the setup is not particularly engaging.
The first night at the cottage, everyone finds themselves the victim of cheap April Fool's day pranks, but the jokes become all too real when one of the friends ends up missing. Here is where the film picks up and becomes a surprisingly engrossing mystery, as each character eventually falls prey to an unseen assailant.
Perhaps it was because of my low expectations, but I found enough enjoyment in April Fool's Day to cast aside my feelings of resentment towards its innumerable problems. Though it is billed as a horror film, do not expect many truly shocking moments. Director Fred Walton (When a Stranger Calls) ultimately makes the picture work, but I feel as if he missed endless opportunities to create a heightened sense of suspense. Instead, he predominately relies on immediate jolts of terror rather than tapping into the fears of the audience with extended moments of tension. Many of the intentionally frightening moments are humorous, and many of the intentionally humorous moments are simply asinine. Terribly distracting is the dreadful musical score, which sounds as if it was originally scored for a spoof on horror films.
For all of these weaknesses, it is the ending where I found gratification. To discover that a cheap horror film was actually based around a substantial sense of purpose thoroughly impressed me. Unlike a typical slasher film, where we know from frame one that the film will merely consist of a masked maniac hacking bodies to bits, the mysterious plot of April Fool's Day is intriguing to watch unfold. I became fascinated in discovering why these violent events were taking place, and unsettled by not knowing who could or could not be trusted. Further proof that the film is unique is the lack of gore involved, which seems merely tasteful at first, but actually necessary by the end. Though April Fool's Day is often absurd and far from plausible, I wholeheartedly recommend it as joyful, escapist entertainment.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, April Fool's Day features a very impressive anamorphic image transfer. Colors are a bit muted, but appear vibrant throughout. Darker scenes exhibit good shadow detail with strong blacks. Overall, the picture is very soft and sometimes fuzzy, but video noise is thankfully nonexistent. Other than a slight lack of detail, I found no major distractions.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The original 2.0 Dolby Surround track is available, as is a newly remastered 5.1 track. I listened to the latter, and was quite impressed with the level of clarity. Much to my surprise, the majority of the soundtrack is dialogue driven and mono-centric. The few instances of surround presence are strong, yet tasteful. The front soundstage boasts good stereo separation, with the sounds of wind and birds heightening the sense of spatiality. Bass is nearly nonexistent, with the exception of a few music cues.
In comparing the 2.0 and 5.1 mixes, I noticed that they sound very similar during moments of quiescence, while the louder sections on the 5.1 track proved to have a bit more depth. In addition, the 5.1 mix also sounds slightly more spacious, and is undoubtedly the better track.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Extras Review: The only offering is English subtitles, and nothing more. I wish I could exclaim "April Fool!" but in reality, it is now only October.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsApril Fool's Day is not a great film, but it possesses a sense of integrity and wit that few other films in this genre can claim. While the lack of special features is a grave disappointment, fans of the film should be delighted with the excellent audio and video presentations.
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