Presidents Day starts as Brett (Jud Zumwalt) and his friends head to his uncle’s hunting cabin for the weekend. As the group makes their way there, they encounter a shady individual who warns them of the horrors that will befall them this Presidents Day weekend. Once arriving, one member of the group accidentally awakens several dead former presidents from their graves. As the newly zombified presidents wreak havoc on the teens, history begins to repeat itself. Now, the teens must navigate through the past and discern how to end the lives of these presidents, again.
Presidents Day is when Americans (are supposed to) revisit the legacies of the men who once led this country. In David Zuckerman’s Presidents Day, however, this day of remembrance takes a horrific twist and becomes more dangerous than ever. Returning from the dead are George Washington (Rick Steadman), William H. Taft (Don Schlossman), James K. Polk (Mike Ostroski), among many others, and all they want to do is torture and kill this group of teens on vacation. There is no way to say this without sounding ridiculous, as the premise itself is just laughable. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when someone proposed this idea to others, and they said yes!
I was hoping for a film that is so bad that it’s good, but Presidents Day misses that mark. There are some moments of solace as the ludicrous historical puns, and one-liners are, in fact, so terrible that I cracked a smile. The film’s three writers, Benjamin Goodwin, Zumwalt, and Zuckerman, appear to have the most basic understanding of American history. Those one-liners mentioned above are predominantly related to each president’s legacy, and I hoped, early on, that as the film progressed, the puns would become a bit less corny.
“…zombified presidents wreak havoc on the teens…”
To further the disappointment with the writing of Presidents Day, the story structure bounces around and fails to find a cohesive story to follow. Character histories, past relationships, term papers, and dead presidents all become intertwined and fracture the already diluted tale.
Those cast to play the presidents look absolutely nothing like their real-life counterparts. I understand that due to the budget, finding the appropriate actors becomes increasingly difficult, but it is nearly impossible to suspend any level of disbelief and buy the actors as these real-life people. The acting further ruins the characters, leaving audiences bored, as there is nothing to engage with on any level. Presidents Day is full of purposely lousy acting, and while I understand the sentiment behind that choice, it renders the film an utterly inert experience.
Goodwin, Zuckerman, and Zumwalt created the horror-comedy Presidents Day to entertain audiences on the most remedial levels. If you have a basic understanding of US history and some of the more well-known presidents (except James K. Polk), it is enough to get a chuckle or two out of the horrific writing. As an entire film, however, Presidents Day is all over the place and is incapable of delivering on nearly any level.
"…...all over the place and is incapable of delivering on nearly any level."