Presidents Day: A Review

by Luce Allan

When a movie centers around a triad of history, humor, and horror, you may find an undead horde of deceased former Presidents of the United States antagonizing a group of teenagers during their Presidents' Day weekend vacation. This encapsulates the plot of Presidents Day (2016), a horror comedy with a sharp focus on parodying both horror movie tropes and centuries of significant historical events.


The highlight of Presidents Day is its witty take on the respective physical traits, personalities, and stories that pertain to a wide scope of past presidents, from John Quincy Adams to John F. Kennedy, and the clever humor that is sprinkled throughout the film is bolstered by its attention to historical detail. Not only are the more prominent presidents featured, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but more obscure presidents, such as Franklin Pierce and William Howard Taft, also play a part in the zombie melee. The comic self-awareness displayed by the main characters regarding horror cliches often complements the history-centered comedy in the film, but it occasionally feels slightly overdone.


The main strengths of Presidents Day are also its main weaknesses; while the satire is often successful, some of the trope-based humor-particularly the stock personalities of the main characters-is overplayed to the point of absurdity, which takes away from the genuine moments of entertainment. Another detrimental factor is the inconsistent dialogue between the teenage characters, which wavers from authentic to stilted. While the scenes focusing on the army of undead presidents are generally solid, the weaker scenes that often involve the teenage characters dilute the former's power.


Overall, Presidents Day is an entertaining commentary on the classic elements of horror films and a humorous perspective on history, although its moments of excess can lessen its shine.