Saturday, 2 August 2014

Camp Dread

It’s fair to say that horror movies are the easiest genre to make, or at least the most frequently made due to the ability to hide behind the gore and mess without having to think too hard about script and plot. In fact, most low budget horror offerings seem to use the following formula: A [noun] [verbs] a [collective noun] of [nouns] in a small town/house/village/church but all is not what it seems to [proper noun]. Using that format and a random word generator, anyone could think up a horror film concept. For example: A bugle (probably haunted) equips a bask of sounds on a small island near the Bay of Biscay but all is not what it seems to Amir Ned, famed Bugle Player of coastal France.


So just turn the ‘all is not what it seems’ into a clandestine murderer and you have a slasher film, even more so if the Bay of Biscay has an American style summer camp.

So, making it’s way to DVD and Blu-Ray now is Camp Dread, a slightly more original take on the Friday the 13th-esque ‘death pile near a lake/cabin in the woods’ style slasher films. Starring Eric Roberts and other people you won’t know, Camp Dread, is a stab at coming at these films from a different angle, but not as original or full of possibilities as my haunted bugle one. It reminds me of Battle Royale, Big Brother and Friday the 13th all squeezed through the gaping eye socket of a teenager, so that’s at least an interesting collection of things.


Julian Barratt (no relation to the Mighty Boosh actor, though that’d be an interesting sub plot) is an ageing director, famous for his success in the 1980s with a slasher film trilogy called ‘Summer Camp’, which were very popular but dropped off the grid after only two sequels. He gets a gaggle of gits and children with terrible issues all put into this camp to make a ‘reality TV’ sequel or reboot to Summer Camp with the promise of one million tasty dollars as a prize for the last one to die. This is the first indication that this is all very tongue in cheek and self-satirising which gives the film a pleasant vibe. The characters in the film are absolutely terrible though, not even stereotypes but caricatures of stereotypes of awful people. There was the slutty crazy character, the homicidal possible double bluff guy, a couple of crazy people, the snoop around and get themselves killed people, but actually it was hard to pin a type to them and it made it a wee bit hard to follow the plot. They also had ‘the nice guy’ to balance it out but most of the cast are total dicks and, because it was not developed well enough for me to get a handle on their personalities, I ended up not trusting or giving too fucks about the ‘nice guy’ any more than anyone else. Not that that matters, because flying through the film like an avian flu is a mysterious killer, taking out ‘contestants’ within minutes of each other. The killer is efficient and relentless and because I hated everyone in the film, it was nice to sit back and watch them all get brutally murdered, making it the perfect film for anyone who has had a tough day at work.


I couldn’t stop watching it and as horror films go, particularly old-school slasher films, I’d rather watch this one than any of the other bollocks that I’ve put myself through recently. It’s not as good as any of the films it’s paying homage to, but it also feels like something that should be in everyone’s collection if they are fond of watching eyeballs exploding onto peoples faces and decapitations. 

Camp Dread is a good slasher film, which is not the same as saying a good film but if you love your horror, I’d definitely give this one a go, 3/5.

[★★★☆☆]

Dave Roberts


Camp Dread at CeX


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