Founders Day (2023) Review

Fangoria! Woo!
Voting sign in Founders Day
Founders Day movie poster

Award winning writers Erik and Carson Bloomquist [She Came From the Woods (2022), A Night at Eagle Inn (2021), etc.] hit the festival circuit this year with a politically charged slash-em-up, Founders Day (2023). Taking place in the small town of Fairwood during their mayoral election, the movie drops us into a roiling cauldron of campaign tensions.

On the one side, you’ve got incumbent mayor Blair Gladwell [Amy Hargreaves; Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)]. She’s promoting a “Consistency” platform while her opponent, Harold Faulkner [Jayce Bartok; TV’s When They See Us (2019)], is pushing voters to vote for “Change”. Meanwhile, there’s a masked killer running around town whacking people with a deadly judge’s gavel. Bonk!

Allison Chambers [Naomi Grace; Gridiron Grind (2023)] is the first to suffer a loss as her girlfriend and mayoral candidate’s daughter, Melissa Faulkner [Olivia Nikkanen; TV’s The Society (2019)], becomes the first victim of the gavel-wielding killer. Allison scrambles to save herself, alert the town, and protect her father from the soon-to-be prolific killer, but hers is not the only tale to be told.

Naomi Grace in Founders Day
Naomi Grace

Founders Day has a lot of story lines woven throughout its 106 minute runtime. Obviously, there’s the main plot with the masked killer. Then you’ve got the mayoral election and the tensions that go along with that. There’s also the relationship drama between Allison who’s planning to leave town after high school graduation and her girlfriend Melissa who’s not. Plus another minor bit of teen drama between Melissa’s brother Adam [Devin Druid; Cam (2018)] and yet-another-candidate’s-daughter, Lilly Gladwell [Emilia McCarthy; TV’s Hemlock Grove (2018)]. There’s a lot going on in the town of Fairwood!

Most of these subplots fade into the background when things get going. However, when the third act comes along with all of its exciting revelations and plot twists, things do start to feel a bit muddled. Not bad, just murky.

What saves the film is great dialog and superior production values. For the most part, the main characters in Founders Day all sound like real people. Their conversations flow naturally and fit their age groups. There’s nothing worse than stilted dialog to pull you out of a good story. The Bloomquists did a great job giving voices to their Founders Day actors.

Erik Bloomquist & Amy Hargreaves in Founders Day
Erik Bloomquist & Amy Hargreaves

Production-wise, the movie looks and sounds fantastic. Camera work is great with some interesting angles sprinkled here and there with good effect. Filming entirely in New Milford, Connecticut (population about 28,000) gives the Founders Day town of Fairwood a genuine small town America feel. And kudos to the sound crew! Even with all of the outdoor scenes and a noisy town hall meeting scene, the audio never falters. Everything’s studio-clear and echo-free.

Overall, if you’re a fan of twisty-turny slasher films and cynical views of American politics, you can’t go wrong with Founders Day. Fun story, great script, and a quaint — if maybe a bit mass-murdery — little town.

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