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[Popcorn Frights ’23] ‘Founders Day’ review: Inspired villain highlight of slasher

A vote for consistency.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the work being covered here wouldn’t exist.

In its opening moments, Founders Day shows even helping someone in obvious need of help can be politicized. Making its World Premiere at the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, the latest offering from writers Erik and Carson Bloomquist (Erik also directed) follows a heated mayoral contest. As Election Day approaches, a brutal murder pushes the already divided town over the edge and it will take more than campaign promises to stop the killings.

The Bloomquists do a great job of marrying horror and social commentary. Naturally, some scenes place politics at front and center, but Founders Day never shoves anything down the audiences throats. It is there for those looking for a deeper meaning, but easy to put aside for anyone who is just watching for the horror.

The Founder is one of the most inspired killers to come around in a while. Clad in a judge’s robe complete with powdered wig and gavel (complete with hidden blade), the villain paints an imposing figure. The initial reveal is suitably creepy and each subsequent appearance is terrifyingly riveting.

There are also some creative kills. Not so much in execution, but who the victims are.  From the very first kill, it is clear no one is safe. It is something that a surprising amount of slashers are not able to get right. Every slasher tries to convey this feeling, but more often than not the fun is guessing how someone is going to be disposed of and not if they will. 

[Popcorn Frights '23] 'Founders Day' review: Inspired villain highlight of slasher

Catherine Curtin (Werewolves Within) stands out as Commissioner Peterson. Her deadpan delivery leads to some of the best moments of Founders Day. She is also a nice departure from the rest of the characters who spend the majority of the time arguing with each other.

Founders Day owes a huge debt to Scream – sometimes distractingly so. It is not the first horror themed whodunit to use the classic for inspiration, but it is one of the better ones. It never feels like a lifeless clone thanks to its creative villain and fun mystery.

The Popcorn Frights Film Festival takes place from August 10 -20. The schedule and tickets can be found HERE

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