Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Last Prank: The Jokesters (2015)

The Jokesters (2015)
Rating: ***
Starring: Nathan Reid, Gabriel Tigerman, Luis Jose Lopez

We all love a good prank. The more inventive, meaner, and/or wittier it is, the better. This is what four guys collectively known as Prank Masters live for and they are great at it!

An internet sensation that boasts hundreds of webisodes of them pulling jokes on each other as well as on their unsuspecting victims, it seems they're nearing their final run when their leader, Ethan, finally got hitched and is ready to move on.

However, one of the boys planned a joke for the newlyweds, a prank so daring with the sole purpose of being their series finale; it involves the remaining pranksters crashing their friend's honeymoon at a cabin in the middle of the snowy woods, dressed up as masked villains armed with axes. Freaking the couple out with shadowy figures and creepy noises, things suddenly went too far when an obviously pissed off Ethan shows up with a shotgun and threatens to kill them.

Technically, it would have been an interesting turn if one of the boys got killed off by their stupid prank, but that wasn't the case for The Jokesters; turns out the mastermind of this scheme, Nick, tampered the guns useless and once their buddy sees this, he goes ape on the former pranksters and gets a beating in return.

Understandably angry at this, Ethan and his wife, Gabby, gave the guys the most stern and intense scolding I've seen in a prank, which thankfully ends with the two forgiving the three and letting them stay overnight, but not before stripping them naked in the snow and made them apologize in front of their own camera.

All's well until morning came when one of the boys was found dead with a blueish infection spreading on his arm, then people starts to die in a way these pranksters never expected...

For an 80 minute film, The Jokesters mostly resembles an unholy birth child of MTV's Jackass and the horror-prank show, Scare Tactics, only much more entertaining and interesting. Seeing the film takes a good bulk of its run building up around the characters and their final prank, we get to see the cast at their boldest in the film's "behind the scenes" footage approach that, I admit, can be realistic with its conflict among those who are against the joke and those who are victimized by it.

So while it does take a bit before the actual horror happens, the films preoccupies us with the working of a prank that is feasible and, at times, funny. Around the time the third act happens, however, The Jokesters suddenly look like a different movie altogether with a sudden tone shift; without spoiling anything, a prank awakened a friend's bloodlust and began a killing spree. While some may get a bit shocked about this, I kinda saw the clues around the first act that this guy is a bit off in the head. Was it a bit extreme? Perhaps, but seeing this guy got into the most trouble than the rest of the dudes, there's a bit of a hint.

Now seeing the film was shot as a found footage and this happens in the last couple of minutes, the massacre does felt a bit rushed (thanks to the small amount of victims to work with and too the film's minor pacing problem) and half of the murders were done offcamera and heavily implied. Those that we do get to see delivered some blood, with the film's realistic approach working with it as gurgles and death rattles add to their notoriety. I wouldn't say its bad, but if the film had more budget, it could be greater.

With so much Found Footage titles coming out every year, The Jokesters can be easily disputed as another one of those horror movies where you question why the guys are still recording, but, plot wise, this film found a way around that plot hole and it is clever. Plus, I can tell a lot of effort were put to make this movie a thrilling ride, keeping the story as unpredictable as possible, and seeing they sort of pulled it off, I deeply appreciate this.

It's not going to be for everyone (especially for those who cannot stand immature pranksters) but The Jokesters delivers and it delivers fairly. Worth checking out!

1 male hacked to death with a shovel
1 male shot, face bashed in with a shotgun
1 male attacked, ran over with a car
1 female presumably killed
Total: 4

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