★★★ out of ★★★★★
An occult ritual that no one knows they are participating in on Independence Day leads to dead presidents (and I don’t mean money) rising from their graves in this winning horror comedy.
Directed by Max Radbill
Angela Harmon (Natasha Krause) and her hard-drinking half-brother Nate (Cameron Gilliam) are constantly at odds with each other, but the siblings are not the worst of each other’s problems once they accidentally resurrect the zombies of past American presidents at their cabin-in-the-woods Independence Day celebration. Yes, dear readers, as you may have already guessed, director Max Radbill’s Re-Elected has it all, tackling holiday horror, zombies, slasher tropes, and horror comedy in one fun-filled, tongue-in-cheek party package.
Angela and Nate host a July 4th shindig for some of their friends from university (everyone graduated a few years earlier) and as the group members try to party like they did at university, they unknowingly perform an occult ritual that causes George Washington (Erik Alexis), Abraham Lincoln (Matthew Friend), and Andrew Jackson (Gabriel F. Bellotti) to rise from the dead. These zombified forefathers aren’t out to devour the hapless friends, though; rather, they come bearing weapons (if you guessed that Washington wields an axe, you would be right) and have their sights set on taking back the United States of America.
Re-Elected is ridiculous in the best sense of the word. The absurdity level manages to rise throughout the film thanks to a screenplay cowritten by Radbill and Eric Looney (who cameos as an emergency medical technician) that offers both the clever and the corny. Naturally, there is some political satire on tap, but Radbill and Looney focus on entertaining rather than preaching. There’s enough pathos in play to make Angela and Nate relatable characters to care about, and their character arcs are well developed.
Krause and Gilliam are impressive in the leads, deftly handling both their comic and serious tasks. The supporting cast does a fine job as well, including Chloe Mikala as Nate’s girlfriend Mary, Matthew DeHoff as Nate’s buddy Marcus, and Kayvon Kaliush as Angela-pursuing Evan. Alexis, Friend, and Bellotti are a blast in their villainous roles.
What makes Re-Elected work so well is its great deal of charm and huge heart. Radbill and his cast and crew obviously had a great time making the film, and it shows. The budget was obviously low for this independent feature, but the filmmakers have fun with that, putting far more emphasis on some gooey gore gags than trying to make the presidents look realistic, for example. Crackerjack editing from Brennan Kerr leads to some terrific sight gags. The cast is all in, no matter how preposterous the situation. Don’t write Re-Elected off as “just another zombie comedy”; the film is far from that, and offers plenty of amusement and verve.
Re-Elected will screen on Friday, September 25, as part of Mr. HoleHead’s Warped Dimension Film Fest. The online festival will present more than 100 feature-length and short films when it runs from September 24th through the 29th. For more information, visit https://www.ahith.com/mrholeheadwarpeddimension.
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