Club Dread (2004) / Comedy-Horror
aka Broken Lizard's Club Dread

MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore, nudity, sexual content, language and drug use
Running Time: 97 min.

Cast: Bill Paxton, Kevin Hefferman, Jay Chandrasekhar, Steve Lemme, Brittany Daniel, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar

Screenplay: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Hefferman, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske
Review published February 27, 2004

From the crew that brought us the sleeper cult comedy, Super Troopers, Broken Lizard now taps into the slasher flick genre with Club Dread, a mix of gory thriller elements and unbridled hedonism that keeps all of its gags completely on the surface.  While there are some laughs to be had, Club Dread just doesn't really have what it takes to be anything more than an ambitious misfire, taking itself a bit too seriously for long stretches as so many horror spoofs have done in the past.

The setting of Club Dread is a resort community located on a small island off of the coast of Costa Rica, where a Jimmy Buffett-like musician and entrepreneur, Coconut Pete (Paxton, Frailty), has created a vacation spot where 20-somethings can go for some fun, sun, booze, drugs and frolic However, all is not fun and games on the island when the members of the staff begin turning up dead one by one, and with each member having a sordid history, fingers start point at one another while the body count rises higher.

Club Dread starts in typical fashion for a dumb comedy, with the usual foul-mouthed gags tinged with sex and alcohol references that should no doubt appeal to the college age crowd that is the target audience for this kind of film.  It's not quite as raunchy as its horror-comedy counterpart, Scary Movie, while not really as satirical as Scream, and at the same time it isn't as funny or clever as either.  The chuckles aren't plentiful, but there are enough laugh-out-loud moments thrown in every once in a while where tedium doesn't set in -- at least for the first half of the film. 

In the second half, the film is finally sandbagged by the horror elements, and what was merely a momentary distraction becomes another exercise in monotonous slash-and-gash.  The spoof elements are still there, but they become too sparse to keep the momentum of the first half going, and when mixed with some of the cartoonish gore, the combination tends to defeat itself, not scary enough to grab you while not funny enough to find amusing.

If you like cheesy horror and goofy comedy, you'll probably get more mileage out of Club Dread than I did.  It's not really very clever or memorable -- just a bunch of goofballs playing around in a genre for a few yuks, not really knowing or caring about what they are doing for the most part.  More time spent in the writing phase of the production could have made this a far better film, but with so many competing voices in the comedy troupe, sometimes the competing interests can cancel each other out -- much in the same way the comedy and horror do.

Qwipster's rating:

2004 Vince Leo