April Fool's Day (2008)
APRIL FOOL'S DAY
WRITERS: Based on a screenplay by Danilo Bach
Based on a screenplay by the Butcher Brothers
Screenplay by Michael Wigart
Story by Danilo Bach
DIRECTOR: The Butcher Brothers
STARRING: Taylor Cole as Desiree Cartier
Josh Henderson as Blaine Cartier
Scout Taylor-Compton as Torrance Caldwell
Joe Egender as Ryan
Jennifer Siebel as Barbie
Samuel Child as Peter Welling
Joseph McKelheer as Charles
QUICK CUT: A year after a tragic accident, a group of spoiled rich people start to be picked off one by one, until the person responsible admits to the murder. Oh, and there's also puppies.
Desiree - A spoiled rich girl whose parents have passed away, and has to get any money from her trust through her brother. Des is manipulative, must get her way and be the center of attention, she's a control freak, and likes to play jokes on people.
Blaine - Des's brother, the man behind the money, likes to sleep around, and also a bit of a prankster. Their parents are dead, and Blaine is doing his damnedest to not let Desiree buy a new Mercedes every year.
Torrance - The new girl in the group, the focus of the opening debutante ball, and pretty much our naive innocent for the movie. She's not happy to find out her party, her big day, was all a sham for Desiree's plotting. After the event, she goes into acting in low grade horror movies like the ones I watch.
Peter - An up and coming politician who is not the brightest tool in the shed. He's not great at taking hints, he's standoffish, and when his wife isn't looking, he's sleeping around with other women.
Barbie - Peter's wife, a former pageant winner, and even though she's last year's winner, she is already being tossed aside as old news. The treatment hits her hard, and for someone who's age and beauty are everything, she takes it hard.
Ryan - A videographer who's best jobs after Torrance's debut are filming local pageants for the news. He's obsessed with the group, and Milan in particular, but when he's not being a creepy guy with a camera, you get the sense that he's pretty average and normal and good.
Charles - He's flamboyantly gay, has a chihuahua, and is a reporter for a gossip rag. He will take any opportunity to further his career, or turn it into a book, or to dovetail into a new tv show. Oh, and also, he can't swim. That's gonna be problematic.
THE GUTS: Wow, that is really far, far too many writers, isn't it? But I digress...
Finally, I have escaped the clutches of the Leprechaun and all of his movies. That was like suffering through one long, unending prank all month long. And speaking of pranks, next up is April Fool's Day, which...wait, I did this last year! Gah, they remade it? Okay, fine...THAT's not a prank, is it? This isn't a real movie, right? They wouldn't remake that. This is a joke, ha ha ha! This is REAL? Spacedamnit... Fine, FINE! but that makes this one of the newest movies I've touched, outside of Birdemic.
Anyways, the remake kicks things off in 2007, as a lavish party at a mansion is just getting underway, with one of the chefs faking slicing off his own finger, and causing a commotion. This gets the attention of Desiree Chartier and her brother Blaine, who live there, and are responsible for everything.
They only have a few lines here, but the Chartier siblings are established effectively and quickly; Desiree is a bit of a control freak, and pretty much your typical snobbish rich girl, while her brother is a bit more of a free spirit and jokester. Although we will learn that his sister has a place in her cold heart for certain kinds of pranks as well.
We then get to meet the rest of our cast, and I'll get to them in due time. Most notably though is Torrance, for whom this entire affair is being thrown. Or so she thinks. This is meant to be her coming out/debutante party where she's being introduced to high society and all that.
She's your typical innocent type, and she does not fit in with the rest of these people, save for maybe Ryan, who is filming the entire night's events.
There's also Peter and Barbie, an engaged couple. He's a political hopeful, and she's a beauty pagent winner. Together, they fight crime! Eventually, along comics Charles, an opportunistic reporter.
As the credits finish up, the last of the group arrives, pretty, blonde Milan. She's Desiree's primary rival in society, and generally the better version of her, in that she's somewhat nicer, with more charitable work, and a bigger heart. She's the girl Ryan has a gigantic crush on and can't stop filming, and she's also about to be the target of the night's biggest prank.
While we wait for that to go off though, Blaine is showing off his Chekov's gun/knife collection to a couple of impressionable girls.
After the movie takes its time wandering around the party and doing the usual debutante things and establishing characters, it is time for the plot to finally get churning. Blaine uses the opportunity to lure Milan away to a private room where he fixes her a drink and they get ready for sex.
My only complaints here is that they could have used a few more pranks to keep the theme going, and interest. The pace certainly isn't terrible and it's done well enough, but things start to drag before the fun really gets going. I definitely don't mind a good 15 minutes meeting everyone and settling into the world, but just wandering around a party can be a bit slow. But back to the actual story...
Unfortunately for Milan, that drink was drugged, so Blaine can have his way with her, while Desiree films it all, planning to use the tape to take down her rival. Oh, and everyone is hanging out and watching this go down, including Ryan who shows up late and isn't pleased at his crush being used like this.
Things take a bad turn though when she reacts badly to the drug and collapses off a balcony to her very own railing kill in the ballroom below.
After her death, things are ruled to be accidental, but for his misconduct, Blaine loses control of their trust fund, and the money is handed over to his sister. In the aftermath, Charles also uses the tragedy to push forward his own career as a tell-all writer and kick start his writing career.
We jump ahead almost a year, to the end of March, 2008, with everyone dealing with things differently, as people do in the wake of a tragedy. Some are taking it well, others like Blaine are sulking, although that's probably more to do with his reputation and fortune being hosed.
Speaking of Charles, we watch as someone films him getting out of a tanning bed, and hearing his little ratdog in trouble. He sees the dog at the bottom of the pool and dives in, despite his inability to swim. He pops back up with a stuffed dog, and drowns right then and there as someone films it all.
And so we find ourselves on April 1st, 2008, a year after the tragic death of Milan, and Desiree receiving an invitation to Milan's grave, and threatening that they have proof.
So basically, this is, "I Know What You Did Last April Fool's Day", yes?
Desiree keeps catching glimpses of a blonde woman she's clearly supposed to mistake for Milan, and before she heads to the grave, she goes to drag her brother's moping ass out of the hotel room he's in. And he's also received an invitation to the affair.
So the six remaining conspirators all arrive at Milan's grave and just kinda stare awkwardly at each other, waiting for whatever they've all come there for.
They get a letter supposedly from Milan, saying she knows who is responsible for her death, and threatening to kill them all over the course of the day if they don't come clean.
Along with the letter, they get a handy laptop with the video of Charles' death. And that's when they start to take things seriously and not think this is all some elaborate prank.
The politician and his wife still brush it off though, and head out, while the other four hurry over to Charles' place to make sure he's not pranking them all. They find his dead body and living dog waiting for them, driving the seriousness home.
And you can probably guess where things go from here. Ryan wants whomever did it to admit it, since he's not keen on dying, and loved Milan, but others don't want their reputations to be further ruined. And of course, accusations fly back and forth, establishing everyone had motive and no one had any alibi. The paranoia is fun, but this ain't The Thing.
Torrance gives Ryan a ride to a pageant he needs to cover and pay rent, and will tell Barbie what happened, while the siblings look for a pay phone so they can tip off the cops and let them deal with things.
But instead of calling the cops, Blaine instead calls back the courier service and finds out the package came from Ryan's place. And so it's off to the pageant to talk to Ryan. They also run into Barbie, and oh no! There's problems with the electricity!
Miss Carolina receives a vase of roses, and when she goes to pick it up, the bottom conveniently shatters, spilling water everywhere. It's a good thing that water and electricity play nicely together!
Desiree finds the body, and grabs her brother and Ryan. When they get back to the dressing room though, the crime scene has been completely cleaned up, body, water, flowers, glass and all. I need to hire this cleaning service.
So the guys don't believe her, thinking this is back to being a prank. And yes, we swing back and forth from prank/not prank a lot. Get used to it.
Anyways, Ryan covers his ass by saying everyone knows his address and could have said the package came from there, and they remember, oh yeah! Barbie has a husband! Let's go see how he's doing.
Meanwhile, Torrance is about to get into the shower when she hears some noise. Before she can investigate, she gets grabbed from behind and stabbed repeatedly...until someone yells cut. OH, did I not mention Torrance has become an actress? No? My bad!
Seriously though, while I normally eyeroll at fake jump scares, I actually like this one. It's a good character beat for Torrance, it's fun and funny, and fits perfectly with the pranking nature of this story and the characters. Plus, it keeps you guessing. And I am a sucker for movies within movies.
Meanwhile, the other three are arguing more about what to do, and Blaine decides he's innocent, there's no proof against him in all this, so screw it, let's call the cops. But oops, the cops have gotten half a dozen or so reports from a Blaine Cartier pranking them with fake murder calls.
They finally arrive at Peter's campaign headquarters, and Desiree rushes down to the parking garage to find him. And also finds a van waiting to run them down.
It's played for laughs, but I love watching the van try and chase them. The way they have it move, Peter's silly yelps. It's fun, even though you're watching someone get run over.
Desiree hides in her car until the van gets bored and drives off. She quickly follows it, hoping to find anything resembling answers. And hey, good thinking.
She follows the van and keeps everyone else updated on the phone, but Desiree is terrible at tailing a vehicle. She pulls right up alongside it, and the driver sees her. Oh, and the driver is the same blonde figure who may or may not be Milan that has been haunting Desiree all day long.
Desiree follows the van to the movie studio where Torrance is filming, and she heads to the actress's trailer to warn her. But when she gets there, she finds the blonde wom...NOPE, just Torrance in a blonde wig for her role. Whew, that totally throws suspicion off of Torrance. Redheads are always innocent.
Blaine shows up and lets us know Ryan rushed off somewhere in a hurry, and Torrance tells the siblings that she's caught Ryan taping her, throwing that suspicion right onto him. So it's off to Ryan's place!
They break into Ryan's, and find his creepy stalker video workstation with creepy stalker spy videos of the whole group.
Blaine the Monotonous tries again to call the cops and get them to Ryan's apartment, this time using the name Anonymous Caller. Man, that guy sees all the best murders. But that's when Ryan shows up to his own apartment. Gee, who would've thought that would happen?
While they hide, the killer whooshes by and slices Ryan's neck. So, yeah, not him. AND the cops are on their way. While the siblings are hiding out at the brand new crime scene with a dead body. THIS was a great plan, Cartiers.
On top of all that, Blaine sees the knife he was showing off a year ago, so that was nicely Chekoved. Of course, he picks it up, not helping the frame job. Fortunately, he takes it with them.
At least Blaine now believes Desiree, since every other body has up and disappeared on her. They head home and call Torrance over for the not dead yet party at the mansion.
This is a great moment. Des says that they'll be safer together, and Torrance just tears into her. She points out that Desiree is the common denominator, she's been at all the murders, how does she know that Desiree isn't the one doing all this?? Des has been having a really terrible day, and this is not helping any. It's a great punch in the gut for Des and just piles on the guilt.
So the siblings head home, with Torrance opting to take her chances alone and far away from the Murder Twins.
But while they can't find any servants, the Cartiers are definitely not alone, as the blonde woman continues to stalk them in the darkened halls.
Desiree skids into the kitchen and finds the butler dead in a puddle of blood, and does something else smart; she finds a butcher's knife. She hides, but finds a blonde wig, and then gets distracted by her brother tied and gagged.
She rushes to his side, and asks who did this, which is when Torrance slinks in from behind her, pointing a gun at the siblings.
The actress ties up Desiree so she now has a matching pair of Cartier watchers, as she goes over her evil plan to get them to admit to killing Milan.
Blaine sticks to the story of Milan's death being accidental, being a prank, while Torrance circles around them with the gun. Torrance closes in on Blaine, giving Desiree one last chance to come clean and admit the truth.
Des won't budge on it being a prank, so Torrance shoots her brother right next to her, point blank in the chest.
Torrance calls Desiree a menace, which she finds just as hilarious as I do, what with having killed five people over the last 24 hours. Torrance gives a bit of a sob story about how her debut was ruined, it was nothing more than a ruse to ruin Milan, and how she felt used, a day that was supposed to be her special day, got overshadowed by Desiree's need for revenge. With the added bonus of the accidental death taking over the event, even beyond the prank.
Which brings us to the gun finally being at Des's head, and she FINALLY admits that she did it, she drugged Milan, and she did it to get back at Blaine for controlling the money and to get him in trouble so she could have it and do what she wanted.
Torrance is naturally not happy that Des put everyone through the year of Hell and the trials and everything just to get at her trust fund and discredit a rival. Which leads to Desiree yelling about how none of the group are innocent, how they're all horrible, and running down a laundry list of how awful, terrible, and stupid everyone else is.
And yep, that's when the movie pulls the rug out from underneath you. Much like the original, it was all a ruse. But instead of testing out plans to make a murder mystery inn, this was all to get Desiree to confess to the murder. Boy, did she ever confess. And then some. I bet they weren't bargaining for her going through the pile of why everyone is terrible and deserved what they got.
Which, hey! They didn't get! Everyone lives! It was ALL an elaborate scheme by Blaine and everyone involved. Even the cops they had to avoid at Ryan's place? That was some actor friends of Torrance's. They got them for scale!
On the one hand, screw you movie for not killing anyone. But on the other hand? I want to stand up and bloody applaud them for actually pulling it off. The plan was mmmaybe a little TOO perfect and planned, but they do admit that they had to do a lot of scrambling to keep Desiree on track for her day of horror.
Also, I love that they stayed true to the original and paid homage to that ending where everyone showed up still alive. The stories may be completely different, but that honours the April Fools Day roots, and if you're going to pull this stunt in a movie, this is the day to do it.
With the undeaths revealed, Blaine steps up and finishes the exposition dump of how he planned all this, and everyone was tired of their lives being stuck in the shadow of Milan's death, and they were all happy to try and help provoke a confession out of Desiree because she's pretty much the worst person on the planet.
They keep showing off all their toys and squibs, but Des is still too dazed to really get it, asking about the gun, and Torrance shows her that it only had blanks in it.
By pointing the gun at her head and firing. Ha ha, see! It's just blanks!
OR maybe not, as a very real bullet blows a giant, gaping hole right into Desiree's head, and spraying blood over everyone standing behind her. Too bad that this time, it's not a trick.
It is SUCH an amazing moment. It *almost* comes out of nowhere, and you don't see it coming until Torrance says the word blanks and points the gun. It still made me jump, and was such a perfect cap to a great mystery, and also did leave things with some consequences after 85 minutes of people being horrible and conniving.
I was already clapping at the movie for going for the massive prank route, and no one being dead, but then to toss that on top of everything just as you think the movie is over, and Des is going to jail? Holy crap. The movie just got done pulling the rug out from under you, and you think, "It was all a hoax!" is the big twist, then almost out of nowhere THAT happens.
So we come full circle and Blaine is back in a courtroom, explaining what happened, and taking full responsibility, while acknowledging it was an accident what finally happened. Torrance is acquitted for her actions, and Blaine regains the trust fund, because who else is gonna get it?
Blaine drives off into the sunset, with his sister's new car, giving one last smirk to the camera, leaving you wondering...did he plan that final gunshot after all, just to get the trust fund back?
Video: Unsurprising that a movie put out direct to DVD in 2008 looks decent enough.
Audio: Ditto for the sound.
Sound Bite: "If this wasn't a front for another one of your pranks, mom and dad would have been so proud." Blaine to Desiree, summing things up pretty well.
Body Count: Much like last year's April Fool's Day, I decided to keep these deaths in, since they're treated as actual deaths for the story, until the very end. And some of them are pretty neat. And hey, there's also some real actual deaths that stick!
1 - Milan takes a pill and a spill off a balcony after 22 minutes, and actually marks a real death in the story.
2 - Charles forgets he can't swim and dives into a pool to save his dog.
3 - Water plus electricity equals dead Barbie.
4 - Peter gets run over by his own advertising van.
5 - The killer shows up and slashes Ryan's throat.
6 - Desiree finds the dead butler's body, killed off screen.
7 - Torrance offs Blaine to get Desiree to confess.
8 - THEN THE ENTIRE PLOT GETS KILLED
9 - But finally, a second real death when Desiree gets accidentally shot in the head by Torrance.
Best Almost Corpse: No wait! The best corpse is actually a dead person! Desiree wins, for sure! That death was SO sudden, so effective, and right in your face when it happened. I'd almost put it on a list of best headsplosions, but the head remains mostly intact. Still, it's good effects and a great moment.
Blood Type - C+: The movie remains largely blood free, since most of the deaths happen off camera and the bodies are found, with very little blood. But, oh, then there's moments. A tiny shout out to the finger gag they started with, and the blood gag with Torrance on set. But then there's the throat slashing of Ryan, and of course the headshot that caps the film.
Sex Appeal: Largely unnoteworthy, except for a few shots of people getting down to the skivvies.
Drink Up! Every time someone dies. I'll keep this one simple.
Video Nasties: This time out, I decided to just have some silly fun and share the van chase, with Peter's hilarious yelps.
Movie Review: I'm debating how I want to rate this one. The plot is maybe a bit overly complicated, and falls into the plan needing to be TOO perfect to get the job done. But it's a decent enough idea, and it gets from point A to point B well enough. The acting is decent for the main of the main cast, where it matters. Some of the second tier of the main group are a bit too one note and stereotypical, but they're done okay enough. The movie's biggest failure, aside from being utterly ridiculous in plot, is that the entire cast is made up of reprehensible spoiled rich people that you never care about, save for Torrance and Ryan, and even they have their annoying flaws. And despite spending 20 minutes with these people before anything *really* happens, you don't know who they are, and barely care, almost glad when some of them die. The most horrible person of the group, Desiree, is the only one that survives through most of the movie, until her final comeuppance. Which, is great. But because Taylor Cole is the star of this show, they actually bother to give her a bit of an arc, and have her showing genuine remorse. So while she starts out pretty loathsome, she becomes ever so slightly sympathetic. So of course she's the only *truly* awful person, and gets killed. But despite all that, the movie is decent enough, even in its absurdity. Three out of five severed fingers.
Entertainment Value: There's actually a lot of fun here. The deaths are pretty creative, and don't get into Jigsaw levels of complexity, the plot really does keep you guessing, even when you think things are all wrapped up, and the movie never, ever takes itself seriously. It's poking fun at itself almost as much as I am. The danger there is, it undermines some of the plot, and a lot of the tension, but the laughs are good. I hesitate to call this a remake, since it really is an entirely different plot from the original, but it does have that same idea of a group of friends who play pranks, and lots of deaths that are all undone. It's more of a spiritual successor than anything else. I found myself actually really enjoying this, in a purely popcorny, guilty pleasure way. This is nothing to write home about, is plenty flawed, with illogical stuff coming out of the pores, but it was a good time and it built to quite the climax. If you don't go in expecting much but a silly, silly movie, you should be good. Four out of five stuffed puppies.