Camp Dread is an homage to 1980’s era slasher movies. It was written and directed by Harrison Smith (6 Degrees of Hell, The Fields) and stars Eric Roberts (Love is a Gun) and Danielle Harris (Halloween 4-5) along with a bevy of horny, good looking 20-somethings.
Check out my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: The “Summer Camp” horror trilogy was one of the most popular franchises of the 1980s. However, the decade ended and so did director/writer Julian Barrett’s career. Now Barrett has a plan to resurrect “Summer Camp” in a modern reboot that entails using a reality show as its template and source of fundraising. Should it succeed Barrett would once again be at the helm. Bringing together an eclectic group of young “contestants” as well as his former stars Rachel Steele and John Hill, Barrett seems to have put together a sure fire recipe for success. Then people start dying. For real. And “elimination” takes on a whole new meaning as “Dead.tv” clearly shows the slasher film has grown up.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t like slamming movies. I have a deep appreciation for the effort that goes into filmmaking and understand that it is a team effort. It is my belief that no one sets out to make a terrible film, and criticism is meaningless without offering constructive input. Camp Dread is by no means a terrible film; there’s a lot to like. Unfortunately, great acting, gallows humor, and awesome FX aren’t enough to compensate for the sub-par plot and flat execution.
Let me explain what I mean when I say the plot is sub-par. First of all, the premise is ridiculous. True, this can be said for any number of Horror movies, as well as sci-fi, and super-hero fantasy. Ridiculousness by itself isn’t even necessarily a bad thing, but the set-up for Camp Dread is a stretch to say the least; we’ve got 20-somethings being given a choice between rehab, jail, of participating in an “Outward Bound” style experience that also happens to be a pilot reality TV show. Anyone remotely familiar with Outward Bound knows that these programs are designed for high school students—not young adults. The idea of this offer being legitimate is just too outlandish to be taken seriously.
When we finally learn the truth about “Camp Sunfish” and the reality TV experiment, one can’t help but marvel at how convoluted the story is. Eric Roberts plays washed up movie producer Julian Barrett, the obvious mastermind behind the deception. His motivations are eventually revealed to be extremely straight forward, which makes the elaborate ruse that is the film’s premise unnecessary. He could have achieved his goals with the same results with a fraction of the effort. Well, maybe he’s just crazy and did it all for the fun of it. Yeah maybe… but it was such a monumental effort, one that required outside assistance and tons of technology. And while Julian is clearly an asshole, he is way too controlled and calculating to be considered psychotic.
Perhaps my expectations were too high; I’m usually willing to forgive a shortcoming or two. The problem with Camp Dread is that the shortcomings are abundant. Compiling a list of all the plot holes and/or loose ends would be exhausting. Honestly, Camp Dread feels like a film that got the green-light based on its pitch and went into full swing before the story was really hammered out. It seems like things started off on the right track, but the conclusion is an utter mess and quite unsatisfying. Attempts at a “twist” come from left field, too late in the 3rd Act, and only add to the overall ridiculousness.
I’ve actually corresponded with Harrison Smith in the past when I did a write-up for the trailer to Six Degrees of Hell. He’s a nice guy, clearly motivated and hardworking; he takes filmmaking seriously and his enthusiasm is admirable. He’s got real talent. Unfortunately Camp Dread just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny—not by a long shot.
All that being said, for such a flawed piece of cinema, Camp Dread is nonetheless an entertaining watch. The characters are fun to hate, the kills are brutal, and the sex scene between Novak (Joe Raffa) and Adrienne (Nicole Cinglia) is hysterical!
2 out of 5 Skull Heads.