Camp Dread (2014): Review, released June 23rd on DVD

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Camp Dread (2014)

(18) Running time: 90 minutes

Director: Harrison Smith

Writer: Harrison Smith

Cast: Eric Roberts, Danielle Harris, Kyle Patrick Brennan, Felissa Rose, Ashley Caspermeyer, Nicole Cinaglia, Brian Gallagher

Reviewed by: Matt Wavish

Camp Dread is a nice little throwback to the slasher films of the 80’s, and oddly enough its central premise is a washed up film director (Eric Roberts) whose horror trilogy was massive in the 80’s. Julian Barratt was made famous for a trilogy of horror features called Summer Camp (Sleepaway Camp anyone?) and decades later he is looking to kick-start his failing career. His plan? Collect a bunch of troublesome youngsters who have caused trouble and are desperate to avoid prison, and bring them to his new summer camp to take part in a competition. The competition is that each will do their best to survive a reality TV show, leaving one standing who will walk away with a large sum of cash. All the events will be caught on the multiple cameras set up around the camp.

Seems simple enough, but this being a slasher film, unfortunately for the youngsters, a masked killer begins killing the group for real, in increasingly more violent ways!

After opening with a montage of the ‘contestants’ explaining why they are taking part, we move on to see Barratt having a chat with the local Sherriff (played by Scream Queen Danielle Harris). Harrison Smith writes this scene really well as we hear Sherriff Donlyn express her hatred for horror movies (a neat touch considering Harris’ standing among the horror community). Sadly we only see Harris in the film one more time, so billing her as a major cast member was a little cheeky.

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Without wasting too much time, the contestants head to camp raring to go, and all the usual clichéd characters are here from a lesbian, a tough guy, a flirty fella, a rebellious chap and, most importantly, sexy ladies! Proving we are clearly in horror fans territory here, we even get that all so important shot of the main sexy girl getting out of the car, with the camera panning from legs to face. Later there are plenty of shower shots, bikini shots and underwear shots. Oh yes, Camp Dread is sleazy, cheesy and gruesome.

It doesn’t take much to please us horror fans really, and Camp Dread delivers enough nudity and violence to fill our needs, but just don’t go expecting anything else. The plot is wafer thin, and characters are wooden, and when the bodies begin mounting up, you won’t really care who lives or dies. The deaths are delivered well, and gradually increase in nastiness as the film moves forward, and some kills are actually a hell of a lot of fun. Arrows to the eyes, prophetic legs used as weapons, barbed wire, hell even cleaning fluid is used to kill off our young sexy cast, and the kills will certainly have horror fans screaming with joy.

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The script too will have you laughing out loud. The key sexy girl responds to the jocks advances telling him “you’re so pretty, fucking you would make me a dyke” Nice! Fair to say the script will not exactly win any awards, and neither will the film itself, but we are not here for greatness, we are here for sex and death. Camp Dread is a tick box project for all the great things about slasher films, and fans of the genre will find lots to scream about here. Christ, there is even a hilarious (although increasingly annoying) scene where a girl is stabbed after getting out of the shower, and she screams, and screams and screams again. Hell, when she eventually snuffs it, she lets out one final scream just in case we didn’t hear her the last 100 times. Personally, my eardrums had almost burst, but it’s all great fun.

Eric Roberts oozes sleaziness and badness at every turn, and as always, he appears to be relishing the role with a permanent grin on his face. However, it is when Roberts is on screen that the film is most fun in-between the kills, and the rest of the cast struggle to hold your attention. The director does his best to build on his characters, but they fail to really register, and while Camp Dread is a lot of fun, there is no depth to it. If you are looking for a throwback to the 80’s slashers, complete with a switch off your brain plot and plenty of horror clichés, then you have come to the right place.

Not the best horror film of the year but certainly one that will delight slasher fans, and fans of cheesy 80’s horrors, however the lack of substance does get tiresome between the good stuff. Oh, and keep an eye out for Felissa Rose, star of 80’s slasher classic Sleepaway Camp.
Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Matt Wavish
About Matt Wavish 10125 Articles
A keen enthusiast and collector of all horror and extreme films. I can be picky as i like quality in my horror. This doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a classic, but as long as it has something to impress me then i'm a fan. I watch films by the rule that if it doesn't bring out some kind of emotive response then it aint worth watching.

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