I guess you’d officially call “Club Dread” a horror-comedy, although it’s a bit hard to decipher where the comedy ends and the horror begins, and vice versa. There’s just no getting around that the film has a schizophrenic personality, indulging in parodies of Teen Slasher movies one moment and embracing them the next. It tries to have its cake and eat it too — gory and serious in its bloodletting and completely lowbrow in its comedy. It doesn’t quite work, mostly because a funny scene where characters keep misusing another character’s name is quickly followed by a scene where someone is graphically eviscerated with a machete.
“Club Dread” was made by the same people behind “Super Troopers”. Collectively known as Broken Lizard, the comedy troupe consists of five guys who all contributes to the screenplay and stars in the movie, but directorial chores fall to member Jay Chandrasekhar. “Club Dread” is a take on Club Med, with a resort island in the middle of nowhere standing in for a hedonistic paradise where young people party and have sex anywhere, everywhere, and whenever the mood strikes them. It’s only when a masked killer wielding a machete starts cutting down the staff that things get hairy.
Bill Paxton (“Frailty) plays Coconut Pete, a washed up musician supposedly patterned after Jimmy Buffett. (Personally, we’re talking about music way beyond my age group, so do not ask for specifics.) The island resort is owned by Pete, who uses his fame to attract fans. In service of comedy, all the Broken Lizard guys play different characters, with director Chandrasekhar playing a Brit with an outlandish accent. More successful is Steve Lemme as local Don Juan named, appropriately enough, Juan. The accented Juan is being pursued by clubgoer Penelope (Jordan Ladd, “Cabin Fever”), who provides the only nudity from the main cast.
The rest of the movie consists of nameless extras running around with their T&A hanging out at every opportunity. To say that “Club Dread” is gratuitous in its T&A is an understatement. The film makes liberal use of its “R” rating, resulting in a movie that, oddly enough for something with so much comedy, is actually more graphic than your average Teen Slasher. Compared to the hacking and sex on display here, “Freddy Vs. Jason” looks like a PG rated flick.
The entire (and only) idea is the staff being stalked by a mysterious killer. Really, there’s no greater ambition than that. Most of the killings fall into the basic setups everyone’s familiar with in Teen Slashers. Having discovered that the killer might be one of them, they start to suspect one another, with the suspect pool getting smaller each time a staff member gets hacked into very bloody pieces. One of those endangered staff members is hardbody Brittany Daniel (“Joe Dirt”), the resident Hot Chick who falls for chubby Lars (Kevin Heffernan), a pacifist masseuse.
Although the script gives everyone a motive to be the killer, it’s really all just pointless padding. In fact, the movie probably goes on for longer than it should. At almost 110 minutes, the pacing is a bit off, and the movie gets bogged down for long stretches, mostly suffering from its inability to decide rather it’s a Teen Slasher spoof similar to the “Scary Movie” franchise or if it’s a serious horror. I really can’t stress enough how cumbersome it is to watch a movie that is knee deep in gore one moment and making lame orgasm jokes the next.
“Super Troopers” was a minor success, but “Club Dread” has proven to be a disaster at the box office. This isn’t really a surprise, because aside from some laughs courtesy of confessions by various characters, the film is only good for some mild chuckles and sight gags. The best moments are those involving has-been musician Coconut Pete, whose claim to fame is based on a string of hits and albums he made in the ’70s; the funny thing is that he doesn’t even remember having made them. There are also some spontaneous misuses of Lindsay Price’s character name that are good for some laughs.
It’s too bad the guys at Broken Lizard couldn’t commit to one genre. “Club Dread” missed out on the opportunity to make a really funny Teen Slasher parody. Instead, it’s just okay — as both a comedy and a serious horror film. Or horror-comedy. Or whatever.
Jay Chandrasekhar (director) / Broken Lizard (screenplay)
CAST: Lindsay Price …. Yu
Paul Soter …. Dave
Erik Stolhanske …. Sam
Bill Paxton …. Coconut Pete
Kevin Heffernan …. Lars
Jordan Ladd …. Penelope
Brittany Daniel …. Jenny
Steve Lemme …. Juan