April Fool's Day (DVD) 2008 version

April Fool's Day (DVD) 2008 version
Will you be in on the joke?
Updated: 03-18-2008

A tame reimaging of an 80s slasher of the same title: check. Trendy dual directors: check. TV teen-throbs: check. Shot on video: check. Direct-to-DVD: check.


April Fool's Day certainly has everything going against it, yet somehow manages to emerge as a mostly entertaining and subversively sly nod to the popular "10 Little Indians" styled mysteries of the 1970s. If you enjoy seeing pretty people in peril, with lots of arch dialogue and highly stylized acting, then April Fool's Day is for you.


While fans of vintage whodunits like The Last of Sheila, Fear in the Night, Death Trap and the like, should be able to suspend disbelief and go with and enjoy this younger version, there may be a slight learning curve for those expecting a direct lift from the original April Fool's Day.


The slow-burn approach directors The Butcher Brothers (aka, Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores) took with this version of a prank-gone-wrong helps give it that slinky 70s vibe: Great care was taken with all the accoutrements including mood lighting, smart cinematography, posh sets, elegant gowns, and polished hair and makeup. It's superficial, shallow, vain, mean and bitchy, just like its slate of hateful, self-serving characters — and that's the appeal of this paper-doll pleasure.


The story starts with debutante Torrance's (Scout Taylor-Compton) coming out party, thrown by her ultra rich friends, siblings Desiree and Blaine Cartier (Taylor Cole, Josh Henderson), at their sumptuous Southern mansion, complete with servants and swimming pool. As the sharks circle said pool, we learn a little bit about what's beyond each slick exterior… and the plot to shame one of their own is unhurriedly revealed. But the hoax goes horribly awry, and blonde beauty Milan (Sabrina Aldridge) winds up dead in her lingerie, sprawled after her fatal fall in the core of a chi-chi centerpiece.


One year later, the following April 1st, each of the conspirators receives an engraved invitation to a grave: Milan's. Who will live, and who will die? Is the gay gossip columnist exempt from making headlines of his own? How about the pageant queen, the actress, or the state senator? This crazy collection of characters — each better-looking, thinner, and more toned than the last — once again brings to mind a marvelous mish mash of Mean Girls, Torso, Scream, Clue and 10 Little Indians.


April Fool's Day is sure to disappoint fans of the original; it seems to me it was made in defiance and geared more toward mystery fans with outré tastes, but it was a picture perfect surprise to me: I found everything from the initial scenery-chewing to the final gotcha-cliché ending much to my liking.


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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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