Everyone has always dreamed of being a famous persona on television at least once in their life and Camp Dread (2014), a film written and directed by upcoming horror-film director Harrison Smith, assesses this dream. The film takes you on a wild ride through a reality show that is being used to benefit and build up director/writer Julian Barretts’ (Eric Roberts) career. A decade prior he had created the hit series “Summer Camp,” which started a horror trilogy that became one of the most popular franchises in the 1980s. Mr. Barrett has finally come up with an idea that will deliberately boost his career back on top.
The director does a great job demonstrating the films tagline (“What would you do for your fifteen minutes of fame?”) throughout the movie. He accomplishes this by bringing together a group of troubled contestants to live together on a real campground, having every moment of their lives recorded day in and day out, like any reality television show. The incentive for the group being that the last remaining contestant would walk out one million dollars richer if they completely complied with the “game.” The fact that anything goes, that there are no rules the contestants must follow on this painstaking reality show, adds to the twist. It is obvious that most of the contestants have lived a disturbed life prior to coming on the show; displaying several signs of mental illness and having had past drug addictions. The contestants believe that they are in control of their destiny and can find a way to win this “game,” while in all actuality they are naively being forced to participate having no impact on the outcome. Their fate was already determined long before the show began. So the question is who is the one in control, pulling all the strings behind Camp Dread?
This film incorporated, and in a way resembled, a mix of slasher films. The setting and location in which this film took place—in the woods, clearly outside a very small, unknown town—is admirable. Shot at a real summer camp in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, the real setting brings with it an authenticity that shows. The overall dialogue and character development are well fleshed out. However, other elements of the film, mainly the death scenes, fell short of their potential. As the depiction of death in horror is an important element to most horror fans, the mediocre scenes in Camp Dread are a disappointment. Some of the death scenes are entertaining, but most were quite cheesy, highly unlikely. As the movie continues, viewers will understand the whole concept, which is really much deeper and darker than anyone could have imagined. The film seemed to drag on in the last half hour, as it became repetitious, but overall it was still pretty enjoyable. If you are looking for a decent horror film with a good amount of gore and amusement, and do not mind the low-budget mix, be sure to check this one out.