Director: Harrison Smith
Cast: Eric Roberts, Joe Raffa, Alexander Mandell, Montana Marks, Felissa Rose, Nicole Cinagli, Brian Gallagher, Danielle Harris
Plot: A group of teenage delinquents volunteer for a reality TV show rather than go to rehab, where they must pretend to be in a horror movie. What they don’t know is that they are being killed off for real.
You know you are watching a B Movie, when the director, writer and producer are the same person.
Eric Roberts plays a movie producer who was big in the 80s with a string of horror movies called Summer Camp. He lost most of his money, when his partner got him black-listed for being very complacent with the health and safety. In order to get back into the movie business, he starts a program where he takes a group of troubled twenty-somethings and puts them in a summer camp for a week. The camp is filled with cameras, essentially becoming a reality TV show, where he can hopefully recreate his original movie, but with gritty realism. The teenagers feel conned into this movie, but when Roberts tells them that the survivor will walk away with a million dollars, they change their tune rather sharpish. What they don’t know is that they are getting killed off for real, which means they are left totally oblivious to what is really going on until the last possible moment.
Camp Dread, in short, isn’t very good. It has a load of great ideas and reflecting on the concept, this had the potential to be something very interesting and different. It is a slasher movie that strives to be something more with an interesting conspiracy. However, no matter how many interesting twists or tricks the movie throws at us, there is so much rubbish to trawl through in between. Eric Roberts is quite good here, as he simply has fun with the silly movie, which is what makes him so popular with these kind of movies. However, his character is horrifically under-used and we spend most of the movie with the victims. Most of them are terrible to spend time with. One of them cracks jokes that makes absolutely no one laugh. About three of them aren’t even developed at all, sticking them into little more than red shirt territory. The ones we end up liking are essentially the best of a bad bunch. At the very least, there are certain characters we cannot wait to see die a horrible death, which I think is the movie’s game plan.
The movie stops making sense after a certain while. The characters in this show know they are in a reality TV show yet get suspicious when they have their mobile phone signal jammed or find a stray wire. Surely, that is all part of the experience and shouldn’t raise any worries. On the flip side, they totally let massive giveaways soar right over their heads. A lot of screaming at the screen is bound to take place. When you realise that logic and plausibility isn’t really this movie’s strong point, you lose touch with what is going on and some of the final plot twists don’t hit the mark as well as they should. Why think them over and enjoy them if half of them don’t make any sense? When the motive of the killer is revealed, it is actually a pretty good shock, juxtaposed with earlier footage of everyone that was killed. It could have come across as touching, but after spending too long in this horribly made film you no longer care too much. Again, good ideas are wasted so many times during this watch. My favourite thing about Camp Dread is that it realises it only has twenty minutes left to go and starts killing everyone off rapidly. It was amusing to watch the director panicking his way through the ending of the story.
Final Verdict: Camp Dread could have been interesting, but the story and characters aren’t thought through well enough. It ends up a waste of time.