Besides what is probably the best series of posters for a single film in — well, ever — Troma’s latest release Father’s Day, from directing team Astron-6 (a filmmaking collective consisting of 5 guys), has all the gore and insanity that the trailer promises. The biggest problem, however, is the film gets lost in these themes and forgets that it has an actual story to tell. I will give the guys of Astron-6 credit for their excellent visuals and execution of the grindhouse style they were going for, unfortunately, the movie doesn’t offer much beyond a good look and feel.
Featuring opening titles that consist of art by Jim Rugg (who did the art on the graphic novel I recently reviewed, One Model Nation), the movie starts with a bang and keeps going full force like a true Troma movie should. However, sooner rather than later, things begin to fall apart. The story follows Ahab (Adam Brooks, also one of the co-writers/co-directors) on his quest to hunt down The Fuchman (pronounced ‘Fuckman’) who raped and murdered his father as a child, slicing his right eye with a razor. As an adult, Ahab seeks vengeance, killing a man he believes is the Fuchman, only to be arrested by Detective Stegel (Brent Neale), the man supposedly on the case of the Fuchman.
After doing 10 years in prison, Ahab is released, resuming his quest for vengeance. Along the way, he meets Father John Sullivan (Matthew Kennedy, another co-director/co-writer) and Twink (Conor Sweeney, yet another co-writer/co-director), who have both lost their fathers to the Fuchman (of course, Father Sullivan’s father was a patriarchal priest) and gladly join the hunt for the Fuchman.
Along the way, we are treated to scenes of the Fuchman (Mackenzie Murdock) raping and killing, and Ahab gets distracted when the Fuchman comes after his sister. What is supposed to be a white knuckle hunt for the killer becomes endless scenes of ridiculous dialogue containing jokes that all too often fall flat on their face.
As I mentioned, there are some great visuals in the film, it’s incredibly well shot for what had to be a minuscule budget. The post-processing techniques that bring about an authentic grindhouse feel are all spot on, however, I wish they would have spent as much time figuring out the intricacies of the script as they did achieving the look they went for. Luckily, this is a Troma film, and anyone going into it knows to expect clunky dialogue and a meandering plot, but the bonus is always the gore. There is quite a bit of gore in this movie, including some really brutal close-ups. Yeah, some of it looks fake as all get out, but that’s not the point: The point is, gore is hilarious. Again, not many people outside of Troma‘s main demographic will understand this point, so I’m sure they’ll hate it.
I really wanted to love Father’s Day, but in the end, there are just too many things wrong with it. The biggest problem is pacing, and while I’m not sure the approach they took to making the film (five directors, five segments? Or five directors always directing?) but it comes off as separate pieces that don’t equal an intriguing whole. The last act of the film spins off into silliness, with Lloyd Kaufman making an appearance as God (and the Devil, I warned you…) in an attempt to explain the further reaching conspiracy regarding the legend of the Fuchman. While the gore and extreme depictions of wild sex are the reason a lot of people will sit down to watch this film, it simply doesn’t provide enough content beyond that to be interesting to most people, even some of Troma‘s die hard fans (which I consider myself, hell, we even cast Lloyd in a short film before). When you miss your main audience, there isn’t much to be done.
I will, however, commend Astron-6 for their dedication to the style and genre they made the film in, and their Do-It-Yourself spirit that I regard so highly. The filmmmakers literally did everything themselves (acting, writing, directing, editing, f/x, post-production, etc) and that’s not something to take lightly. It takes hard work and dedication, even to make a movie that doesn’t work on every level, so their work is appreciated, even if it’s not the most entertaining film, even for its style and genre. Worth a look for hardcore Troma fans, everyone else will probably turn it off pretty quickly.