Camp Dread

Written and directed by Harrison Smith, is the story of a group of teenagers given a chance to will a million dollars by taking part in a reality TV show.

Julian Barrett plans to restart his Directing career by inviting a group of delinquents to a summer camp to take part in a faux murder mystery show, only to discover the murders aren’t as fake as they seem.

Eric Roberts holds the film together as the inscrutable Julian Barret, effortlessly walking the line of desperate man who may or may not know what’s happening to the doomed youngsters. The supporting cast are all solid, with even the weakest actors actually giving a more nuanced performance than it first seems. Danielle Harris’s appearance is brief and inconsequential, and probably has more to do with using her to link the film to the successful Halloween franchise.

The plot is brimming with ideas, none of which are particularly original, but none the less initially start off quite interesting. More a whodunit than a slasher, its original title Dead.TV gives an insight into the director’s real intentions, with the film having more in common with thrillers like 10 Little Indians than horrors like Friday the 13th. With the classic set up of a group of strangers being brought to a secluded area under false pretences, mistrust and deception rules as the teenagers start to drop like flies. Sadly, the killings are on the whole uninventive and poorly executed with one notably brutal exception.

The editing at times is clunky, with characters hoping from one place to another without a clear reason, but this is more of a reflection on the script rather than the Editor’s technical ability. It also illustrates the Director’s desire to create intrigue through uncertainty and secrecy, but it’s handled so awkwardly it just serves to undermine the film. For example, there are elusions to a great revelation, but you never find out what the teenagers did or did not know so ultimately this revelation amounts to very little. Another strange decision comes during the end chase sequence with the remaining survivors actually going to sleep for the night, only to resume the chase the following morning. This completely puts the brakes on the whole sequences and the film’s ending unfortunately loses the momentum as a result.

An average B-Movie horror, it has some good ideas and some good performances, but is undermined by its lack of focus and clear direction. Once for hard-core Eric Roberts and Danielle Harris fans only.