‘Founders Day’ Review: Political Rage in a Small-Town Slasher

Founders Day is an entertaining slasher that under-delivers on political satire, but showcases a fun new slasher villain.

Founders Day was released in limited theaters on January 19th, 2024, and it was released on VOD streaming services on May 7th, 2024.

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What is Founders Day About?

The Founder flashes a peace sign in Founders Day (2024).
The killer in Founders Day is known as The Founder.

Founders Day is a slasher movie set in a small town with politically-charged atmosphere. The story takes place in the city of Fairwood where the political divide is getting heated. Adding fuel to the already combustible situation is the disappearance of Melissa, daughter of the candidate challenging the incumbent mayor’s re-election. Melissa is missing and presumed dead at the hands of a masked killer, and the killings continue as Fairwood’s tricentennial celebration, Founders Day, draws near.

Naomi Grace as Allison in Founders Day (2024).
Naomi Grace stars as Allison, Melissa’s girlfriend and the only witness to her brutal attack.

Founders Day was directed by Erik Bloomquist, who also acts in the movie in a supporting role. Erik and his brother Carson Bloomquist cowrote the script for Founders Day. The Bloomquist brothers previously directed and cowrote the campground horror comedy She Came from the Woods (2022), the supernatural horror movie Night at the Eagle Inn (2021), and the vampire film Ten Minutes to Midnight (2020).

Founders Day stars Naomi Grace, Devin Druid, Amy Hargreaves, Jayce Bartok, Andrew Stewart-Jones, William Russ, Emilia McCarthy, Olivia Nikkanen, Adam Weppler, Tyler James White, Erik Bloomquist, Catherine Curtin, Kate Edmonds, and Dylan Slade.

Founders Day Review

Amy Hargreaves as Mayor Gladwell and Erik Bloomquist as Oliver in Founders Day (2024).
The politics in Founders Day are murky, but they provide an excuse for widespread conflict. (pictured: Amy Hargreaves as Mayor Gladwell, and Erik Bloomquist as Oliver)

Though labeled as a “political slasher,” the political satire angle is overstated by many reviewers and even by some of the film’s marketing. Founders Day does not have the same focus on political commentary and satire as something like The Hunt (2020) or even The Purge franchise, nor does it ever seem like it’s trying to be as political as those films. The politics in Founders Day are somewhat vague, and it’s there mostly as a way of adding an increased sense of unease within the community. The movie doesn’t make any real statements about political affiliations other than maybe “politicians and political rage are bad,” which is a very safe thing to say. Frankly, minimizing the political satire is a good thing. We get enough political rage in real life, and we don’t necessarily need more of it in a slasher movie that already has a surprisingly complex plot.

Devin Druid, Tyler James White, and Emilia McCarthy in Founders Day (2024).
The more interesting conflicts in Founders Day are more personal than political, like the love triangle represented in this image. (pictured: Devin Druid, Tyler James White, and Emilia McCarthy)

Founders Day is a whodunit style of slasher with a mystery inspired by the likes of Scream (1996) and its sequels and imitators. There are a good number of plausible suspects introduced, and trying to guess who the killer is can be fun if somewhat frustrating. There’s a great moment a little more than halfway through the movie that reshapes the mystery by answering some questions while providing plenty of new ones. It’s an extremely well-done sequence that reestablishes interest in a plot that might be starting to feel too conventional for some.

Arun Storrs, Jayce Bartok, and Adam Weppler in Founders Day (2024).
Clues in Founders Day are sometimes misleading, but that’s an intentional part of the mystery which might might be hard to accept for some viewers. (pictured: Arun Storrs, Jayce Bartok, and Adam Weppler)

Unfortunately the final fifteen minutes of the movie are spent over-explaining everything, and almost all of those fifteen minutes are needed to spell out the convoluted plot. Avoiding specific spoilers, it turns out that the mystery is too complex to be truly compelling. The basic motivation for the killing spree is interesting, but there are numerous red herrings baked into the plot which makes it all feel unsatisfying. All of the misdirection makes sense in a weird way when it’s explained, but it also makes attempting to solve the entire mystery as it’s happening fairly unrewarding.

The Founder in Founders Day (2024)
Founders Day has a decent amount of blood for a slasher movie, but only one of the kills could be considered particularly gory (and the gore isn’t on screen for long).

Where Founder Day excels is by being a slightly cheesy slasher movie. In many ways Founders Day feels like an homage to the early-to-mid-90s era of slashers when the killers’ gimmicks became over-the-top and the tone of the films hovered between horrific and comedic. The killer in Founders Day, known as The Founder, would fit right in with the killers found in movies like Uncle Sam (1996) and Dr. Giggles (1992), and even later slashers like The Tripper (2006). The Founder has a memorable presence with their weird smile, powdered wig, and bladed gavel, and it would be easy to build a low-budget franchise around the character.

William Russ as Mr. Jackson in Founders Day (2024).
William Russ, who plays a teacher at Fairwood’s high school, helps ground Founders Day with a good, believable performance even in some weird situations.

The tone of Founders Day does fluctuate a little. The movie isn’t really a comedy, but some obvious attempts at humor are made that end up feeling slightly odd in the context of the drama and horror happening around it. Also, the drama can veer into melodrama at times, but then other dramatic moments might actually be attempting black comedy. It’s rather inconsistent, and it probably would’ve helped if Founders Day had leaned more into any specific tone rather than trying to navigate between many. To be fair though, lots of 90s-era slashers fall into the same traps, so it’s at least consistent with other movies of its kind.

Overall though, Founders Day is enjoyable. If you’re a big fan of slasher movies, you’ll be used to many of the imperfections in Founders Day, and they might not even bother you much. The final third of the movie stumbles towards the finish, but the first two-thirds of Founders Day are quite good.

Who Will Enjoy Founders Day?

Catherine Curtain as Commissioner Peterson in Founders Day (2024).
As in many slashers, Founders Day has ineffective and clueless law enforcement. Catherine Curtain is wonderful as Commissioner Peterson, a police officer with a sweet tooth and a habit of asking too many questions.

Founders Day is a good movie for slasher fans who want something that feels like a throwback to the pretty-good slashers of the 1990s. The kills in the movie are nicely done (with a combination of practical effects and CGI), the main character is likeable and sympathetic, and the story is ridiculous in a low-budget slasher kind of way. Maybe most importantly, the killer is interesting. For a light and fun slasher flick, having a killer you want to watch is of great importance, and Founders Day delivers in that category.

Further Reading

Meet The Author

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.