Despite being a commercial failure, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s 2007 Grindhouse movie experiment has succeeded in a different sense, having inspired other filmmakers to get down and dirty with cheap, kick-ass exploitation flicks of their own.
Last year’s Hobo With a Shotgun, in particular, was a sizeable cult hit, riffing on the works of Lloyd Kauffman’s Troma studios to hugely entertaining and disgusting effect. Father’s Day is the latest in this line of new sleazoid exploitation flicks, and may very well be the most outrageous effort yet.
The synopsis alone should be fair warning to those who might not enjoy Father’s Day. An eyepatch sporting vigilante named Ahab (Adam Brooks) returns from a self imposed exile and, alongside his stripper sister (Amy Groening), a gun toting priest (Matthew Kennedy) and a rentboy named Twink (Conor Sweeney), attempts to track down and kill the notorious gay rapist and murderer known as the Father’s day killer.
These faux grindhouse style flicks are kinda tough to review. Is it well made? No. And yes. It might look like cheap rubbish, but in fact it’s recreating a style and era perfectly and with real skill. The FX in particular are absolutely fantastic, with CGI eschewed in favour of gloriously wet and messy practical effects (I’d started to believe I’d never see fake blood in a movie ever again). Are the performances good? Again, it might seem as if the actors are wooden and stumbling over their lines, but this is intentional, the strength of the performances laying in the chemistry between the actors and their comic timing. Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy, in particular, are superb with flawless timing and priceless reactions that had me howling, but the whole cast are incredibly game and on terrifically funny form.
The content is what will no doubt put off many casual viewers, this is a movie designed to offend all but the most hardcore exploitation fans. Prostitution, incest, serial murder, cannibalism and a LOT of gay rape are all presented in fine gory detail up on the screen, Father’s Day being the only film I’ve ever seen where a man’s member is bitten off in close up (I dread to think what percentage of the movie’s FX budget went on rubber phalluses, but I imagine it was a lot).
If all of this makes the movie sound rather hellish and horribly dark, that is not the case at all. For all its disturbing qualities, Father’s Day is at heart a comedy, and a very funny one at that. The interplay between the characters is wonderful, naturalistic dialogue full of blokey bickering and bravado gives the movie real heart, as well as smartly skewering action movie clichés at the same time. The grue and gore may be plentiful, but is so over the top outrageous it can only be meant to be goofy and amusing, and absolutely succeeds in that respect, I choked with laughter at some of the atrocities on display.
There isn’t really anything terribly wrong with Father’s Day. The third act is perhaps a little too chaotic, going in a very bizarre and unexpected direction, but it’s still terrific fun and full of imaginative design and some wonderful stop motion animation, it’s certainly never less than enjoyable.
Father’s Day is an acquired taste, I imagine the majority of sane people would hate it, but if, like me, you have a sick sense of humour and a love of disgusting practical gore effects then you may well love it as much as I did.
Directors: Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie, Matt Kennedy, Steven Kostanski, Conor Sweeney
Stars: Adam Brooks, Matt Kennedy, Conor Sweeney
Runtime: 99 min
Country: USA, Canada