It was 24 years ago, not today but rather Easter Sunday, when unassuming family man Douglas Fisher went a little off-script and created a paper maché Easter bunny mask of his own design, complete with light up eyes. He then went on a bloody killing spree which culminated in the execution of his own wife and daughter.
The Fisher Bunny Massacre, as depicted in the opening, pre-credit scenes in debut writer/director Jeremy Todd Moorehead’s Easter Sunday, is rendered in washed-out colors and shown replete with pseudo-well-rented VHS artifacting, making the film look like something you’d unearth at a flea market or thrift shop on sale for about a buck-ninety-nine. The retro look and feel works well for this indie production, as Easter Sunday is all about the retro — a loving homage/throwback to our beloved slashers of the 80s, albeit with some modern touches like that need to go all meta on the audience, a pesky peccadillo of modern slashers that will not go away despite the fact that it’s been over 20 years since Wes Craven blessed/cursed the genre with the conceit in Scream.
After the bravura opening scenes which feature some bang-up kills such as a neck-slash and a face scalding in a pot of boiling water, all rendered with impressive practical effects grue, we then settle into present day where we learn that Fisher’s rampage was halted by a timely bullet from the gun of Sheriff Arkin (the late, great Robert Z’Dar to whom the film is dedicated).
Our amiable protagonist is the betrothed Jeremiah (Moorehead), lead singer of the multi-racial, light-reggae/rap hybrid band Heart Eaters. And on the keys is Jeremiah’s bud Ryan Tate, née Fisher, the son of the notorious Bunny Killer, who miraculously survived his father’s rampage. After band practice, the members and their respective significant others gather around the bonfire to get wasted and play around with a spirit board. They devise the brilliant idea to contact the spirit of Fisher Sr., and aided and abetted by the mysterious “Postman” next door (First Jason Ari Lehman), succeed in making contact. Soon, Fisher Jr. is possessed by the soul of his dead father, and after acquiring pa’s tools of his trade (the mask and his ax), the massacre begins anew with the provision that Fisher must kill all who were involved in resuscitating him lest he perish again.
Easter Sunday is good fun. The kills are plentiful and are rendered, for the most part, practically (CG is utilized for some of the more outlandish gore gags). The cast is uniformly strong, and the thrills and kills are punctuated by plenty of humor — some quite funny, while others, like the aforementioned meta references to past horror flicks, a tad tiresome.
Considering that it was made on a shoestring ($10,000), Easter Sunday looks pretty good, with some sharp elements of style and impressive camera work. The film could have used a some more judicious editing as it does tend to tire before the final act, but ultimately, there’s enough heart, humor and grisly, gory kills within to warrant a viewing.
A worthy addition to the pantheon of holiday horrors.
***1/2 (out of 5)