Camp Dread. Read the title, and your mind fills in the entire movie for you.
Is it a bit like Friday the 13th? A bunch of attractive young types go to a camp, take their clothes off and get murdered in weird and interesting ways? Stick with that movie you’ve just invented, my friend, because it’s far better than the one I just watched.
Eric Roberts is the obligatory guy-you’d-kind-of-recognise, here to pick up an easy paycheque, and over the course of the film doesn’t have to display any emotions other than hangin’ out.
He plays Julian*, an ageing director who had a string of hits with his some camp-based slasher movies like the one you imagined in the first paragraph.
He’s looking to make another sequel to get some money or whatever, and so gathers in the original writer and star of his series, a bunch of juvenile offenders, and the most needlessly complex setup he can imagine. The young criminals are brought in to be on a reality TV show, which also doubles as a counselling session, but is also a game where they have to avoid being “killed” to win a million dollars, but is also a real-life situation where they have to avoid being actually killed, while simultaneously providing inspiration for Julian’s new sequel because he doesn’t possess an imagination.
The future victims are given a cursory introduction to show us what stereotype they are, and then set on their way. I was particularly amused by the one guy who was set up as the angry one, by being relatively normal for most of the introduction and then getting really angry for no reason.
So setup notwithstanding, you’ve got your people to the camp, it’s hard to mess it up from here on, correct? Incorrect. I didn’t expect this film to be good, per se, but I didn’t expect it to be quite this dull. All of the people who die (spoiler alert: most people die) are killed in the most mundane ways, shot to make them look even less interesting than they already are.
Someone is going to be stabbed, so we see a closeup of their torso while some shuffling around happens.
Someone is beaten to death, so we watch their face as they are unhappy with being beaten to death.
Only the last kill in the film really breaks this trend, by being by far the stupidest of all.
It’s also pretty sexless for this particular subgenre, other than one scene which they decide to be explicit in the weirdest way they can come up with. For a bunch of half-dressed twentysomethings sequestered away from the world and left to their own devices, they do enjoy sitting around having uninteresting conversations and being murdered in uninteresting ways.
I was going to write a paragraph about how the plot doesn’t make any sense, but that’s not exactly fair, it does make sense in the way that a Rube Goldberg machine devised by a mental patient makes sense, it all does fit together, but why would anyone do that?
My favourite part was when the original writer storms off, wanting nothing to do with the show, and then dies because someone had poisoned his sandwiches at some earlier point while he was still there and participating. That’s foresight. I give it half a star for that, and correctly pointing the camera at people instead of at the door of a hut or something.
* I looked up Eric Roberts’ IMDb at this point, and holy shit he’s credited in at least 50 roles for this year alone. everything from Human Centipede III to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. I like to think he just turns up on the set for things.