‘Presidents Day’ Makes History Hilarious

Presidents Day (2016)

Directed by David Zuckerman

Synopsis: Courtesy of IMDb

The zombified leaders of the free world rise from the dead to hunt down a group of ill-fated teens and give them a lethal lesson in American history. Their only hope for survival is to summon the demonic spirit of John Wilkes Booth.

From the very first scene, in which a man accidentally shoots off his ear while trying to kill himself, I knew Presidents Day was going to be good.

The film, directed by David Zuckerman, is high level camp, meaning almost everything in it is making fun of one horror movie trope or another. Take the beginning for instance. After a fun title sequence and the aforementioned misfiring, we meet our main characters as they prepare to embark on a journey we’ve all seen before— a weekend trip to a family cabin. They all take their turns establishing their characters and all the notable cliches are in attendance. To your right, the dumb jock (Jud Zumwalt) and the nerd who’s writing his research paper (Benjamin Goodwin). On your left, the straight laced ginger (Monica Ricketts) and her bad boy ex (director David Zuckerman). Mix in a standoffish girl with a lip piercing (Chelsea Taylor Leech), your token smart black guy (Dax Hill), and the popular girl with a killer bod (Brittany Faith Rosoff) and you’ve got your cast.

As these seven friends head off to vacation in the woods, things begin to get strange. Max, the one with the lip piercing, finds a journal with strange phrases in it (think the Necronomicon) and unwittingly resurrects America’s beloved forefathers who are, you guessed it, out for blood. As I watched President’s Day it was obvious that the scriptwriters were riffing off of some classic horror movies, but their impressive working knowledge of America’s past gave Presidents Day a unique spin. Filled with a LOT of history puns and some clever subversions of established archetypes, the writing is fantastic. Paired with acting so over the top it’s great and a solid direction by Zuckerman, the film sings, such that I found myself earnestly smiling throughout most of the hour and a half.

Even a lot of the things wrong with Presidents Day don’t seem so bad when you factor in the satire of it all— the shoddy special effects, the hilariously awful body doubles, the cheesy spurts of blood— they all play into the story. In this way, the low budget actually works in favor of the film. Other things, like some faulty sound design and a few wonky editing cuts could have used some fine tuning, but their presence didn’t do much to take away from my enjoyment of the movie.

In the end, Presidents Day never takes itself too seriously, and that’s what makes it seriously funny. I think anyone looking for a good laugh or a quick history lesson would get a kick out of the movie. I know I certainly did.

8 out of 10 Splats of Blood