Father’s Day is trash, but oh my god it is entertaining trash. Corny one-liners, awkward dialogue cuts and overuse of red gels don’t detract from any of the core fucked up enjoyability of the film. You know when a movie opens up with a money shot of a creepy dude cutting apart and skull-fucking a corpse’s head, you are in for the sick wild ride that only Troma can deliver.
While Troma produced, the Winnipeg filmmaker collective Astron-6 are the incubators and creators of Father’s Day. The five members (yes, five) consist of Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski. They all acted, wrote, directed, edited and did the special efforts for Father’s Day. Troma helped out by giving them $10,000, but the group essentially did everything themselves. Keen viewers will have fun recognizing Winnipeg locations and buildings in the film.
The main antagonist in Father’s Day is a creepy boogeyman called Fuchman (pronounced Fuck-man) that, well, fucks men — dads more specifically. Three damaged people come together to bash his brains in for justice. Ahab (Brooks) is a sentimental maple syrup makin’ cowboy with an eye patch, Chelsea (Amy Groening) is his stripper sister with a heart of gold and Twink (Conor Sweeney) is an underage male prostitute. Even with a skeleton synopsis, you wonder how Astron-6 made the film for so cheap.
Despite the cost of making the film, visual aesthetic, subject matter and story, Father’s Day doesn’t devolve into a cheesy mess. A balancing act of camp, comedy and gore makes the film a pure joy to experience. And you get to listen to a sweet synth soundtrack while the chaos is going on. Every shot looks the way it should. To rephrase: the film doesn’t look cheap. Thank god for films such as Grindhouse, Hobo with a Shotgun and Death Race that make the visual style used seem modern and a retro throwback to the grindhouse/horror films of the 70s. A faux-80s video infomercial at the beginning and the middle of the film is as self-aware to VHS flea market sleaze as you can get. Father’s Day is a dumpster dive, a mostly disease free cinema trash meal for the 21st century.
Obviously, this film is gory and what separates a good gorefest from a paper mache head and cornstarch blood high school movie is the special effects. I don’t know how Astron-6 did it, but the special effects are some of the best I’ve seen. I hope they didn’t dig up dead bodies or raid the medical dumpsters at the Health Science Centre for props. The effects are that good.
Some issues I found with the film were the over use of red gels and some editing blips that seemed out of place and flow breaking. Luckily the scenes are fast paced and those moments are short lived. The sound design is cheap and relies occasionally on stock sound effects. If you are enjoying the film and “get” its aesthetic, it wouldn’t be an issue, but if you were on the fence or disliking the film, it could be something horrible and unforgivable.
Even in a film such as Father’s Day, overacting is still noticeable. There were some scenes where I couldn’t help but cringe at the actor’s ability. As stated earlier, the film is a balancing act between camp, comedy and gore and sometimes the actors seems unsure in which direction to take their character.
You do feel a little bit guilty watching Father’s Day, but gosh darn it is great. Eating rocky road ice cream made from McDonald’s soft serve with Jujubes on top is a lot of fun occasionally and Father’s Day is the cinema equivalent. Let your eyes slurp up the mess on the screen and don’t feel too guilty about it.
Father’s Day will be playing 9:00 p.m. at Cinematheque, 100 Arthur Street at Bannatyne, from Wednesday, Mar. 21 – Saturday, Mar. 24.