Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Camp Dread' (2014)
Slasher Trope Confetti with HEART!
I love the basic concept of this movie. It's like Don't Fuck In The Woods, with a myriad of strung together, fan favorite, tropes. It shows you the people making this movie were fans before they were writers and directors. Actually, a lot of the set up reminds me of Cabin in the Woods, except more of a spoof and as a reality TV show instead of an Illuminati conspiracy.
They also landed Eric Roberts. How the fuck did this spoof of camp slashers land Eric Roberts? That's pretty impressive.
I really dig the Found Footage Hybrid concept and there were and still are so few people doing it. Yeah, most of this movie is shot in the typical third person style, but they sneak in all the body cams and hidden cams as typical of an actual reality TV show.
You know, I wonder how many of the actors were actively having fun shooting this movie, as they seem to be having fun with the tropes they were assigned. There's the obvious 'last girl,' the 'so macho he might be in the closet' jock guy, the guy who annoys everyone by constantly being a creep (who is likely also a virgin), there's more than one slutty girl, but one is the freaky slut and the other is the 'bitch.' It's funny because the 'freaky slut' is also the 'super fan.' (I don't really approve of these trope terms, but we're working with horror and that's just how they're known). The best part, I had them all pinned upon their introduction and even marginally guessed the order they would die in. You could make a game of it, if you've never seen this before.
So, what's really interesting about this, the characters were all tropey as fuck, and not initially designed to drawn empathy. But then, we go pretty deep into their background, to find out the tropes all have pretty serious human stories. Most of these are good kids, just with shitty, judgmental parents. This really fills out the body of the story and makes them instantly relatable in a way where their designed tropes usually prevent empathizing.
It reminds me a lot of my own work, The Flagellant, where the point is to try and empathize with the supposedly unforgivable characters that even seem to deserve their fate. It reminds you that even the worst people behave that way for a reason, and in some respect, this makes them very human.
The acting is actually pretty solid for horror, even for other characters that aren't Eric Roberts. The setting is smartly designed and perfectly fits the story, and there's a bit of a twist at the end that, while predictable, is still pretty smart and doesn't ruin the movie if you guess it.
Over all, I really recommend this to Horror Heads and fans of the Slasher Genre.
So, the one character that is not at all likeable, is actually intended to be a secondary antagonist, both brilliantly in the meta plot, and in the actual plot. The whole point is that these kids are on this reality TV show that is supposed to be kind of like 'Scared Straight' and 'Rehab' but the director played by Roberts has other intentions. He sets it up like a typical generic slasher movie, and informs the campers that they have to avoid being eliminated by a 'hidden killer,' while preforming tasks and competing in games.
It sounds like harmless fun until people start legitimately dying. What's brilliant about it, is it looks like the secondary antagonist just starts killing people to win. He figures, can't be eliminated if he does all the killing. And they set him up as a bit of a sicko too, with intimacy problems and a history of violence. Later, you even know for a fact that he kills at least two girl.
However, in a twist (which I admittedly guessed) it turns out that Roberts character was actually intending on killing everyone, had already killed most of the earlier victims, and simply lucked out when "Definitely not deeply in the closet, Jock" joins in on the killing.
As it turns out Roberts' character was paid by the self righteous conservative parents of these children to get rid of them, no questions asked. Roberts just decided to double dip by filming it as well. I guess it was the way they spun it which didn't convince me and made me think Roberts' character was guilty from the get go. They wanted him to seem calloused and willing to document human suffering, but he always seemed like he was far too in control for everything to be a happy accident. Eventually, there are points that would simply be impossible if he didn't have a direct hand in the killing. While they set up the jock as the killer, I was never firmly convinced.
Over all, the plot was simple and smart and even touching. You genuinely feel bad for multiple tropes that were intentionally designed to make you hate them. That, in of itself, was impressive.