Camp Dread (2014)

*. Not what I was expecting.
*. The DVD box cover has a picture of a tent with some limbs scattered about. The ad line (which I’ll confess made me smile): “Pitch your tent. Dig your grave.”
*. This same image is used again on the menu screen. But this is false advertising. Nobody pitches a tent in Camp Dread! In fact, you don’t even see a tent at any point in the movie. The campers all stay in separate cabins.
*. I’m just kidding about that being what I wasn’t expecting. What I really meant is that I was expecting one of those meta-horror comedies, where everyone involved seems to be following the script in a campy (pun intended), knowing way.
*. The set-up seemed to indicate that this was what was going to happen. Eric Roberts, again playing a slimy heel, is a has-been horror-film director who made a bunch of slasher films in the ’80s. Basically, he was the guy behind Friday the 13th. Now he’s going to take a group of troubled teens and plunk them down in the same camp and film the results for a reality TV program. Except this game of Survivor turns real.
*. Knowing that was the plot, I think I can be forgiven for thinking this was going to be a comedy. It’s not. There are no laughs in Camp Dread and the premise is played straight. Or at least I think it is. There’s a pull quote from some review site on the DVD box calling it “funny,” but I had a trouble seeing what this referred to. I mean, it’s not like they were trying to be funny and just weren’t. I didn’t get the impression they were even trying. But then the DVD box also has a tent.
*. If that’s not enough to scare you away, I don’t know what else to say. The explanation for what is really going on is actually kind of cute, if totally improbable (I don’t see how they could have possibly got away with it). But if you were expecting some good kills, you can forget it. They are mostly predictable, and edited in such a way that you can’t see what’s going on. Only the one near the end with the catapult is unique, and it is too ridiculous to be taken seriously. Maybe that was what was meant to be funny.
*. Another unexpected thing is that so much time is taken to introduce the video cameras filming everything at the camp, including tiny personal cameras on each of the campers, when absolutely nothing is made of this. It almost seems that at some point they might have thought of doing the whole film as another found-footage effort, but then changed their minds and didn’t bother to change anything in the script. So none of the surveillance or POV cameras play any part in the movie at all. Indeed, they are hardly used.
*. Most of the usual elements are here. There’s a killer who wears black gloves. The pretty girls show off their bums in booty shorts. Some bodies are discovered. Use is made of a shower curtain. Scream queen Danielle Harris gets second billing for a part that is little more than a cameo. As already noted, Eric Roberts is back being what Eric Roberts has become.
*. I give this movie some credit. More than most critics were willing to extend. As I’ve said, the idea behind it wasn’t all bad, and I was at least a little bit interested in what was going on. But, of course, I wasn’t expecting it to be good. That’s what really helped.

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