An Ambitious Effort

by Bethany Rose

A successful practical joke series is set to end its run. The finale coincides with the wedding and new future of one of the series’ “jokesters.” The gang of pranksters, minus the groom, decide that the honeymoon night will serve as the perfect setting for the ultimate series finale. After an awkward wedding, hindered by the immaturity of the friends, particularly Nick, whose wedding speech was even too awkward to be filmed, the group prepares to scare newlyweds Ethan and Gabrielle at their intimate getaway. Unfortunately, the jokes go too far, and the friends find themselves fighting to stay alive.

The Jokesters was a concept that particularly piqued my interest. It’s no surprise that I was intrigued by the potential horrific elements of the film, but I love a good horror/comedy blend, and I also love slapstick and “juvenile” humor, and the premise of the film read like a perfect storm of elements. I was going into the film thinking Jackass meets Friday the 13th. The problem is that rather than blending, the elements stayed painfully separated and severely unbalanced.

The Jokesters
Directed by
A.J. Wedding
Nathan Reid, Gabriel Tigerman, Luis Jose Lopez
Release Date
21 July 2015
Bethany’s Grade: C

The film takes far too long to set up, spending more time at the actual wedding/reception than is necessary. During this time, there is no hint that anything sinister will occur. With all of that set up, it is surprising that one of the major reveals of the film is left for after the credits, making it seem like an afterthought rather than an important piece of plot.

But that isn’t to say that The Jokesters isn’t ambitious. It certainly tries to stand out in the ubiquity of low budget horror, particularly found footage, films that have cropped up in the past ten years. What I found most interesting is that, rather than work as one continuous story, the film works better if watched in three segments.

Segment one would be the wedding. At first I found this part least successful, but if critiqued as just one vignette it is suddenly a bright spot in the film. Consider this segment a buddy comedy with a dash of drama. It has a group of friends gathered together for what might be one of the last times. The friends are generally goofy, but the seriousness of their imminent  breakup and new lives—some of which have no direction, some of which have very specific direction that will lead them even further from the group—hangs in the air and creates some uncomfortable moments.

Read the interview with Director A.J. Wedding here

I cannot in good standing as a film critic provide many details regarding the other two segments, but I can say that segment two, which would begin as soon as the friends left for the woods, is my favorite. It is this segment that works the best, the only segment that successfully balances all of the promises of genre blending.

So while I didn’t get Jackass meets Friday the 13th, after re-evaluating the film, I realized it can work if I consider it Jackass meets V/H/S.