I have to admit, I was incredibly worried about reviewing Presidents Day. I mean, I knew what I was getting myself into as far as content and tone were concerned; it's an off-color horror comedy with it's tongue planted firmly in cheek. But even still, I've run through plenty of films that attempt to pull off what David Zuckerman and Benjamin Goodwin try to with this one, and all too often they fail miserably, and I'm usually left frowning and cringing uncontrollably. So thank Roosevelt this wasn't the case with Presidents Day, where instead, I was left smiling and laughing uncontrollably; the ridiculous story goes:
On Presidents Day weekend, a group of teenagers venture to a remote cabin in the woods. Through a series of random events, they accidentally curse themselves and awaken the former Presidents of the United States of America. The undead Presidents soon attack and begin killing them off one by one. To survive the night, they must band together and use their knowledge of American history and horror movies to once again make our forefathers a thing of the past
While it's true that I've never read (and probably never will read) a plot synopsis like this, it's still clear that Presidents Day borrows elements from other staple horror films and genre tropes; Evil Dead, Cabin in the Woods (which funny enough, satirizes and parodies the same genre and tropes), Friday the 13th, and the slapstick fueled Scary Movie series. We have the usual archetypes here, but they are all dialed to an 11 and deliver on their characters - from lines to body language - with all the subtlety of an explosive wet fart; and I love it! It's basically going so far overboard that you can't help but laugh at the absurdity of it all; and while I'm not sure if it's with them or at them, I'm also not sure it really matters when you're this entertained.
While the cast as a whole do a great job with their roles, a couple standouts are worth mentioning above all I feel. First off, Erik Myers as the spastic, spitting, tollbooth harbinger of doom, absolutely slayed me. His take on Friday the 13th's infamous "Doom!" spouting old man is fabulously over the top. His exchanges with the ill-fated teens, specifically his back-and-forth with the empty-headed Brett (Jud Zumwalt), were all shining examples of some of Presidents Day's nonsensical genius. And then there's Brett himself. A bad stereotype of the California surfer-dude, that's more imbecile than airhead, we have in Brett the film's source for most of its best laughs. It's not so much the writing either (though lines like, "Get me a beer, Max" were fantastic), it's really Zumwalt's delivery that does it. Squint-eyed, head tilted, mouth agape and loudly obnoxious, I almost couldn't believe this was a real performance in a real film and not some drunk-out-his-mind heckling whirlwind of a man, come to disrupt the set. There's no possible way that any scene shot with Jud Zumwalt in it, happened in one take.
Of course, it doesn't stop with the cast; the film's comedy also comes by way of some silly visual gags too. Max is the brooding, straight-laced "goth girl" of the group. When the gang go for a dip in the local hot tub, dressed appropriately in swimwear, Max joins them too, only she's still wearing the exact same outfit she wore outside the tub, read: dressed for a hike through a cold forest. It happens so nonchalantly that you can't help but laugh, especially juxtaposed against the ridiculous scenario.
Really, that's Presidents Day in a nutshell. A smorgasbord of ridiculous scenarios and even more ridiculous characters. This isn't even touching on the actual President zombies that serve as yet another center point around which the various components making up these scenarios naturally coalesce. Speaking of, if you know your American history to at least a modest degree, you'll find more value in the humor that comes by way of the walking dead. If not, you have plenty of time to brush up before June 6th, the films release date; the date when David Zuckerman and Benjamin Goodwin celebrate our forefathers the best way possible, by letting freedom bleed.