Founders Day Movie Review

"Founder Days" attempts to position itself as a groundbreaking "bold political slasher," but the reality is far from the promised innovation. Instead, the film navigates a post-"Scream" killing spree against the backdrop of a mayoral election in a small town, delivering a lukewarm exploration of political satire and horror drama. The film falls short of its potential, with characters and plotlines that lack depth and fail to engage the audience.
The setting is Fairwood, an American everytown where political tensions rise as Mayor Gladwell, portrayed by Amy Hargreaves, prepares to defend her public office against the fervent Harold Faulkner, played by Jayce Bartok. Despite the promising premise of a mayoral election as the backdrop, the film's exploration of politics is disappointingly trite. Both candidates resort to sloganeering and performative campaigning, portraying a sense of inauthenticity that fails to add substance to the narrative.

The movie opens with a demonstration in front of Fairwood's jewel box movie theater, where supporters of both mayoral candidates picket each other. However, the reasons for the protest remain unclear, emphasizing the film's lack of depth in portraying political antagonism. The mayoral contest ends in a deadlock, with the movie conveying the message that maintaining the status quo for selfish reasons is the greatest sin.
Amidst the political backdrop, a series of bloody murders disrupts the lives of Fairwood's angsty teenagers. The film introduces characters like Melissa (Olivia Nikkanen) and her partner Allison (Naomi Grace), whose deaths lack the emotional impact necessary for a compelling horror narrative. Melissa's connection to Harold Faulkner adds a potential political dimension to the killings, but the film fails to capitalize on this opportunity, leaving the audience with unexplored plotlines.

The central character, Adam (Devin Druid), the son of a politician, attempts to defy expectations. However, the film's exploration of his character falls short, with conflicts like romantic rivalries and policy debates introduced but left unexplored. The characters' lack of depth makes it difficult for the audience to connect with their fates, contributing to the film's overall lack of engagement.

"Founder Days" incorporates attempted shock value through brutal kill scenes, reminiscent of post-Wes-Craven "Scream" sequels. However, these scenes fail to evoke the intended impact, with death lacking the necessary sting to make the audience care about the characters. The film's worst kill scenes seem more focused on showcasing de rigueur nastiness than crafting a compelling narrative.

One notable incident in the film stands out for its exceptional disturbing nature. However, the filmmakers fail to fully utilize this moment, leaving it disappointingly underdeveloped. By sidelining a prime suspect, director Erik Bloomquist and co-writer/co-editor Carson Bloomquist miss an opportunity to deepen Fairwood's across-the-aisle grief. The film attempts to convey the idea that kids are dying regardless of their parents' political affiliations, but this promising development remains largely unexplored.

The Bloomquists, known for "She Came From the Woods," don't delve deep enough into Fairwood's open wounds. The characters, including Adam, Allison, Adam's dad, and Lilly's mom, are subsumed under a false unity of grief. The film's strained anticlimax finale leaves no winners, further adding to the overall sense of disappointment.

"Founder Days" often feels like a missed opportunity for a darker and more provocative narrative. The filmmakers invest significant time in setting up false expectations, distracting from the potential richness of the film. While attempting to highlight corruption and opportunism on both sides, the Gladwells and the Faulkners lack believability as their personalities are reduced to prescribed political roles.

The film's conclusion leaves the audience with a sense of emptiness and a missed opportunity for a more profound exploration of its themes. "Founder Days" could have been a thought-provoking commentary on politics and horror, but it falls short of delivering the depth and engagement necessary for a successful film. Ultimately, the movie fails to live up to its promise as a "bold political slasher" and leaves viewers wanting more from its underdeveloped characters and unexplored plotlines.