2024 is an election year, and mid-January 2024 is an opportunity to view the “satirical, political slasher,” as is noted in press materials, Founders Day. In case this title may seem familiar, it was a part of the festival circuit last year, where it won the Audience Award at the 2023 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. It also screened at the London FrightFest, Popcorn Frights, and San Sebastián Horror and Fantasy Film Festival. Founders Day is the newest film from the Bloomquist Brothers (Erik Bloomquist and Carson Bloomquist, Ten Minutes to Midnight). Erik directs the film for which both siblings wrote the script.

Synopsis: A small town is shaken by a series of ominous killings in the days leading up to a heated mayoral election. As accusations fly and the threat of a masked killer darkens every street corner, the residents must race to uncover the truth before fear consumes the town.

This movie does not have the most original story, and there can be comparisons to other films, most recently from 2023. I found it enjoyable despite some of the shortcomings in the script and the lack of solid performances for each character – which goes back to the script. The actors are good, but some characters’ dialogue seems to dilute the action at times.

Horror fans will undoubtedly like how the murders are carried out – quite violent. Some of the scenes may be too gruesome or graphic for film fans who like political films but aren’t into serial killers with a vengeance. The film is rated R.

Mr. Jackson (William Russ, Boy Meets World) is one of the elders in town, a history teacher who does his best to keep order in the school, given some of the students’ personalities on campus. He provides a solid performance and one character the audience keeps their eye on until the end. Naomi Grace (“NCIS” and “Family Reunion” TV series) is an actor who gives a good performance as Allison Chambers – a brilliant student who impresses Mr. Jackson with her writing and knowledge. She has been closely related to Melissa Faulkner (Olivia Nikkanen, “The Society” TV series). Still, things will change since she is leaving town with her father, Thomas Chambers (Andrew Stewart-Jones, “Gotham” TV series). Allison is quite surprised and scared by the chain of events that happen in town – and her surroundings.

Some students don’t follow any rules in place, but when the audience meets some adult characters, it may not be surprising why these teens act the way they do. The mayoral race has two candidates, Mayor Gladwell (Amy Hargreaves, “Homeland” TV series) and Harold Faulkner (Jayce Bartok, SubUrbia, “When They See Us” TV mini-series). They can’t stand each other, but there is likely a reason beyond politics. The script could have gone deeper to explore and explain what happened, especially in the small town where everyone knows details about each other. Their fierce efforts to one-up each other often are reasonable, but at one point, the performance between these two characters leans into the comedic (not funny) and almost childish, as seen on campus.

Mayor Gladwell’s daughter, Lilly (Mexican Canadian actress Emilia McCarthy De Antuñano, “Skymed” TV series, Babel), has been in a relationship with Adam Faulkner (Devin Druid, “13 Reasons Why” TV series). Melissa tells brother Adam about fellow student Rob Donahue (Tyler James White, “The Villains of Valley View” TV series) and Lilly, so there is a second generation of Gladwell and Faulkner feud.

Not everyone in town is happy with the status quo for various reasons, and changes need to be made. A masked murderer starts taking out people until we see the killer stay around too long after one of the kills. There is a second masked murderer who continues stabbing, slicing, and dicing. The community is still unsafe, but how deep is the investigation by Commissioner Peterson (Catherine Curtin, Stranger Things) and Deputy Miller (Adam Weppler, She Came from the Woods)?

The cast also includes Erik Bloomquist as Oliver, Kate Edmonds, Dylan Slade, and Arun Cameron Storrs, among others.

The runtime is one hour and 46 minutes. In theaters nationwide on January 19, 2024

Source: Dark Sky Films

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