Article first published as DVD Review: ‘Camp Dread’ on Blogcritics.
There are not a lot of great direct-to-video horror offerings.
Sometimes one may sneak through the cracks, typically a theatrically
intended film that gets dumped by the studio: e.g. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil — but these are very few and far between. In the case of Camp Dread,
writer/director Harrison Smith has managed to take a good idea and
completely ruin his own end game with horrible acting and pedestrian
directing choices. Not even adding established actors (Eric Roberts and
Danielle Harris) to the mix results in much more than what you’d expect
from a direct-to-video production.
In Camp Dread, aging horror director Julian Barrett (Roberts) has fallen from grace after a successful 1980s slasher trilogy called Summer Camp.
Julian wants to resurrect his series and remake his films in the guise
of a reality show in which a group of troubled 20-somethings are shipped
to what they believe is an alternative to jail or rehab. Instead,
Julian informs them that they are all reality show contestants, with a
$1 million prize up for grabs for the last one standing. However,
elimination takes on a literal meaning when a killer starts taking them
out for real and Julian’s “Dead.tv” show starts to take on a far more
Roberts and Harris are the only ones who show any real acting
ability, which comes as no surprise considering they’re actual (B-list)
movie stars. But the rest of the cast are your typical horror clichés,
ranging from horny jokesters to bimbo lesbians. Poor Harris is
completely wasted and limited to two scenes. The gore effects are
mediocre at best with some rather uninspired killings, the only original
kill being an amputee who gets beaten to death with his own prosthetic
leg after his good leg suffers a compound fracture. The rest are your
typical slashings and stabbings. Bet you can guess what’s coming when
the kitchen freezer is said to have a broken latch and a character says,
“Hopefully, no one loses their head.” To sum it up, Camp Dread is more like Camp Dread-ful.