PRESIDENT EVIL *** USA 2018 Dir: Richard Lowry. 81 mins
A feature length ode to John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN set against the backdrop of Trump-era America. Writer-director Richard Lowry’s film opens with a specific recreation of the 1978 film’s title sequence (a Trump mask replacing the pumpkin), mimics individual scenes, shots and music cues from HALLOWEEN and stages a clever recreation of its famous prologue tracking shot.
Psycho David (Ryan Quinn Adams), who stabbed a porn star in a Reagan mask back in 1980, escapes from the Lar-A-Mago Sanatorium (And Golf Course) in a Trump mask, just as mid-term elections are approaching. He pursues an appealing Muslim heroine (Sitara Attaie) while trans / ethnic supporting characters hammer home the commentary on the Far Right. The scattershot script takes in random spoofs of everything from SE7EN and THE FOG to THE OMEN and PSYCHO, though most of the movie is inevitably devoted to Trump-themed gags that will quickly date it but, for now, are quite amusing. Alongside predictable jokes about Russian collusion (the Donald Pleasance character is called Lutin), the Mexican border wall and characters named Mueller, Clinton, Bannon et al, there are witty incidental laughs – notably a lampoon of Trumps’ appalling grammar, extended to poorly written messages at murder scenes. The killer has precedents in the Nixon-masked psycho of HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY FIVE and William Lustig’s UNCLE SAM, though it’s surprisingly light on gore and bodycount. Attaie deserves credit for crafting a likeable character under the broadly comic circumstances, and certain scenes carry a surprisingly poignant charge: the memorable moment in HALLOWEEN in which neighbours ignore Laurie’s pleas for help take on a powerful new meaning when a young Muslim woman in 2018 America is placed in the same situation. Ultimately, PRESIDENT EVIL has infectious, knockabout fun with the all-too-real concept of Trump’s presidency validating the hate crimes perpetrated by elements of his supporter base. It is almost certainly the only horror movie ever made that acts as an impassioned plea for its viewers to vote in the mid-term elections.
Review by Steven West