Broken Lizard’s Club Dread emerges as one of the better horror parodies, which if you ask me has been done to death. From Scream to Scary Movie to even last year’s bizarre Cabin Fever, the horror genre has gone from horror to horror-comedy in a matter of a few years.
Many will know these guys from 2001’s Super Troopers, which tanked at the box office but has gained quite the following on video. Club Dread is very much like that film; very hit and miss with a few great laughs.
Despite its disadvantage of being about seven years late to the party, Club Dread is a very watchable and at times hilarious self-mockery of the genre. The film knows the cliches better than most films who attempt this kind of humor, and it pays off. There are enough false scares in this film for five movies, and you can tell that the Broken Lizard guys are winking at you the whole time. At least the films knows that it’s bad. Those who don’t recognize that will be in for a long 97 minutes.
Going into a detailed plot synopsis is really ultimately unnecessary. Teens are flowing to Coconut Pete’s (Paxton) Club Paradise, set on a remote Caribbean island. The staff’s job is to make sure that the clubbers are having fun at all times. Just ask Sam (Stolhanske), chief of the “Fun Police.” After the campers smoke their preliminary weed and have their preliminary sex, a killer begins hacking away. But this time around the killer is not after innocent campers, but rather innocent staff members. Who could it be? And what is their motive?
It took five writers to pen this thing, which in itself is surprising. In terms of clever plot twists, they’re few and far between, but what does work is the at times over-the-top humor and gags. The Broken Lizard team has a real touch for puns and bizarre circumstances. They have actually managed to inject some ingenuity into this very tired premise, and they earn points from me for that.
What also makes the film work (at least for the most part) is the inspired casting of Bill Paxton as the down-and-out Coconut Pete. He is almost unrecognizable under his mop of hair and goatee, but Paxton plays him as a drunken Jimmy Buffett wannabe – and it works. Pete feels he is still the rock star that he was in the 70’s, complete with his claim that Buffett stole “Margaritaville” from his own “Pinacollataburg”, written some seven years earlier. A surprising and funny performance from Paxton here.
The rest of the case works well, which is how it should be since all five writers have parts in the film! Writer/director Jay Chandrasekhar is hilarious as Putman, the overly sissy tennis star. He is given one of the film’s funniest sequences, which you will be able to easily spot if you see the film.
Some may be surprised by the level of gore in the film, but I found it to be so over-the-top that it just became funny, particularly the insanely mocking final scene.
Club Dread is hardly high entertainment, but it had a clear idea of what it set out to do and it accomplishes it. Judging by the film’s weak $3 million opening weekend box office gross, it seems as if people are getting tired with this premise. That is understandable, but I would recommend this over any Scary Movie or Scream film if you’re looking for a self-deprecating horror-comedy.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Length: 97 Minutes
Rating: R for violence/gore, sexual content, language, and drug use.
Theatrical Release: February 27, 2004
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
Written by: Jay Chandrasekhar & Kevin Heffernan & Steve Lemme & Paul Soter & Erik Stolhanske.
Cast: Bill Paxton, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske