A bunch of juvenile delinquents are interviewed on camera, auditioning for "". The idea is they'll star in a new reality TV show to be based in a Pennsylvanian summer camp. However, these oddballs - a mixture of rehab patients and petty criminals - don't seem too keen on the prospect of becoming television stars: they're each there purely because the deal offers them a way out of their current predicament.

The mastermind behind the reality show is Julian (Eric Roberts), a washed-up film director who enjoyed success in the 1980s with his splatter trilogy of "Summer Camp" films. Now he's returned to his sleepy home town where he's installed cameras into genuine summer camp grounds and plans to make a comeback with a reality TV show where the contestants will live Big Brother-style. The idea is that these "fuck ups" will undertake challenges periodically, the losers getting fake killed by a guest slasher, until the eventual winner emerges to claim their $1,000,000.00 prize.

Julian's been given the reluctant go-ahead by the town's deputy sheriff, Donlyn (Danielle Harris). She's not keen on the idea because (a) she has reservations about playing pranks on kids with issues, (b) she doesn't like horror films, and (c) there is unresolved business between her and Julian that relates to her late Sheriff father.

The obnoxious, bickering bunch of youths arrive at the camp a short while later and are given a grand tour by Julian, flanked by counsellors Rachel (Felissa Rose) and John (Brian Gallagher). Within minutes it's apparent that the world would be a better place if someone were to snuff these freaks out for real. Fortunately, someone else feels the same - and the first hapless teen bites the bullet while strolling through nearby woodlands.

The body count grows as the kids and their keepers remain too self-absorbed to notice for some time, allowing the filmmakers to run through their repertoire of FRIDAY THE 13TH and THE BURNING motifs.

An arrow is shot through one unfortunate's skull, popping their eye out of its socket; another individual is clobbered to death with an artificial limb: Cleve Hall's FX work is largely of the old school prosthetics and foam latex variety and is all the better for it. Splashy and reasonably well executed, his efforts are the best thing about the film.

It's fair to say the cinematography and editing are adept and Harrison Smith's direction shows potential. But he's hurt by his own insipid script and a group of actors who aren't talented enough to breathe energy or interest into their by-the-numbers characters (the jock, the nerd, the slut etc).

Roberts has charisma I suppose, and at the very least looks happy to be in employment. Casting Rose from the SLEEPAWAY CAMP films is perhaps the most inspired move here, although she's underused. Harris gets second billing during the opening titles but gets around 5 minutes of total screen time. It's a shame, as she had the potential to elevate events.

Instead it's left to tame lesbianism, minor nudity and infrequent bouts of competent gore to hold the audience's interest until the killer's identity is finally revealed. Though you'll have probably guessed who it is by then.

Image Entertainment continue their pursuit of the UK market with the region 2 DVD release of CAMP DREAD. The film is presented uncut in its original 1.77:1 aspect ratio which, on the test disc provided for review at least, hadn't been enhanced for 16x9 televisions.

Shot on the RED camera, images are crisp and clean throughout. Colours are deep without bleeding, flesh-tones maintain a natural quality and noise of any kind is totally absent. Sharp, detailed and boasting deep blacks, CAMP DREAD looks great.

English audio is given both 2.0 and 5.1 workouts. Both do a serviceable job, though the separation on the latter could've been better - some of the dialogue came over quietly in the overall mix.

The disc opens to a static main menu page. From there, a scene selection menu allows access to the film via 6 chapters.

There are no bonus features.

CAMP DREAD isn't badly made, it's just badly acted and highly derivative in the writing department. Think MY LITTLE EYE meets FRIDAY THE 13TH and you can't go far wrong.

Image Entertainment's DVD is a bare release, though it's debatable whether the film deserved any better treatment.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Image Entertainment
Region 2
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review