Harrison Smith’s previous scripts included the quite woeful Corey Feldman starring 6 Degrees of Hell and also The Fields which was slightly better and featured Tara Reid. For his directorial debut he goes a little more old school with many of this features roots fixed back in the 1980s with notable nods in particular to the underrated slasher classic Sleepaway Camp. In fact the nod is that apparent that it’s practically a headbutt with none other than Felissa Rose having a prominent role in the movie.
Julian Barrett was a renowned Hollywood director with his magnum opus being the Summer Camp trilogy of films that wowed cinema-goers back in the 1980s. Now though, time has moved on – as has Barrett’s career, and he’s determined to have another crack at the big time. Opportunity knocks in the form of a ‘reboot’ (such an offensive word!) of his classic horror series, albeit with a contemporary twist. With reality TV dominating our media, he feels that if he can lure a group of contestants to the famed camp and film them as they battle for survival then he should secure a hit.
The contestants are brought to the camp under the illusion that they’re simply on an out-of-bounds rehabilitation trip. After all, this crew of misfits consist of a mixture of killers, blackmailers and sexual predators, but early on Barrett breaks the news about the reality show aspect teasing them with the (as yet non-existent) prize money of $1 million. With original series star Rachel Steele (Rose) guiding the campers through what they’ll be doing as they battle each other for the prize money, they gradually begin to muster a competitive edge. As expected though things gradually become sinister, and it’s not long before a decidedly gruesome edge comes into play.
I have to admit the notion of Camp Dread was one that certainly arose some interest. I LOVE the Sleepaway Camp movies, and to watch something that knowingly tips its hat towards them gave the movie some much needed love to get me in the mood. Sadly this potential swiftly eroded away despite the welcome presence of Felissa Rose and a generic but always worthy Eric Roberts. I thought the film desperately struggled to get out of first gear as we had minimal gore in the opening half of the film. Instead we’re ‘treated’ to a certain degree of character development, but the individuals are written so that they offer little in the way of interest. They’re very clichéd too, and with them all having a notably nefarious background they elicit little empathy from the viewer.
When whatever gore does arrive it’s pretty disappointing. I noticed with interest that Cleve Hall was behind the special effects, but even this guy with a career rooted in such Charles Band classics as Eliminators and TerrorVision seems woefully under-employed here. It’s fitting that in one of the camp offices that there’s a prominently displayed poster for the Harrison Smith penned 6 Degrees of Hell, as this smug showmanship of mediocrity fits this tiresome slasher quite fittingly.