The Death of April (2022) Review
Bearing a 2022 release date on IMDB but originally shot and released ten years earlier, The Death of April is a found footage mockumentary about a young woman named Megan (Katarina Hughes, Pretty Problems, Peridot). She’s recently graduated from college and decided to shake her life up by leaving California to take a teaching job in New York City.
Once she gets moved into her apartment she starts keeping a video diary for her friends and family back home. It doesn’t take long for the videos to go from her showing off her student’s drawings to her coming home buzzed which isn’t exactly shocking for a recent grad on their own for the first time. Other things like the covers on her bed moving by themselves are less explainable.
Writer/director Ruben Rodriguez (The Invoking: Paranormal Dimensions, Charlotte The Return) frames The Death of April as a documentary rather than strictly a found footage film so we get not just footage from a video diary as in The Possession Diaries but home movies and interviews with people who knew her starting with her mother Stephanie (Stephanie Domini, Mr. Obscure, Dark Prism), father Jason (Travis Peters, Into the Night, Look Hard) and brother Stephen (Sleeping Dogs, War Cellar).
This is contrasted with increasingly odd footage from Megan’s laptop, including some with notations that they’re evidence from a police investigation. That’s not entirely a revelation though, it’s obvious from the fact that someone would make a documentary about her to the way the characters talk about her right from the start of the film that something happened. The Death of April may not be a found footage film, but it shares that characteristic with them.
This is all mildly interesting but not exactly compelling, even when a ouija board makes an appearance nothing overly scary happens. It’s not until her friend Heather (Chelsea Clark, Drive-In Grindhouse, Look Behind You) comes out to visit that things start getting really strange. This is also when we finally find out who April is, or rather was. She was the previous occupant of the apartment and was murdered by a person or persons unknown. Oddly enough, she was a young woman who moved there from the West Coast to be a teacher. Quite the coincidence eh?
Maybe when it was originally shot The Death of April might have felt a bit fresher and more original. But ten years later there’s nothing new or surprising to see here. And being another no-budget film in the style of Paranormal Activity there are no visual fireworks to distract the viewer’s attention from that fact. Or from how irritating some of the characters, especially Stephen are. His visit takes up way too much time and by the end of it he really got on my nerves, and not in a good way.
The film’s other problem is that there really isn’t a tight plot thread to hold the film together. The Death of April just sort of wanders from point to point, even what is supposed to be the film’s main idea, Megan becoming possessed by April’s spirit is barely developed. Characters constantly talk about her being a totally different person, but we see very little of that. A scene at a party where she says she doesn’t know her friends and much later someone comments about her suddenly becoming a smoker. Then suddenly in the last ten minutes, she tells the camera how messed up she is.
The result is a film that’s well-made technically and not actually boring, but it’s not all that interesting either. It’s yet another of those films that are just sort of there, making The Death of April the video equivalent of background noise.