Dir: Alberto Marini
Starring: Maiara Walsh, Diego Boneta, Jocelin Donahue
UK Release TBC
Plot: A group of American students prepare to spend their summer at a sleepaway camp for Spanish kids to learn English. Their preparations are interrupted when an unknown infection begins to affect them, an infection that puts them in an uncontrollable rage. Can they solve the mystery of what is causing the infection and keep themselves safe? A series of misunderstandings creates a confusion as deadly as their blood thirsty friends.
Going into Summer Camp I knew absolutely nothing about it. I had avoided trailers for the majority of this year’s Fright Fest line up (the exception being Turbo Kid) but I assumed that this was just going to be some kind of slasher film with the most obvious title imaginable. I had images of some Jason Voorhees knock-off and maybe some Scream style meta humour. What I got was something very different from Alberto Marini (Producer of the [REC] series) in his directorial debut.
The thing that sets Summer Camp apart from any other horror film based around a summer camp is it’s use of confusion amongst it’s characters. It reminds me a lot of Tucker and Dale vs Evil, another horror comedy of errors, it’s use of misunderstandings taken to gruesome extremes.
The infection in Summer Camp takes a similar appearance to the zombie infection of [REC], fast and incredibly aggressive. Imagine the fear of being in that situation combined with not knowing who to trust when you walk in on someone standing over a dead body and you start to see where Summer Camp is going with this.
Summer Camp is a funny film but it’s not the kind of comedy that is constantly bombarding you with jokes, it’s sets up it’s humour in a similar way to how the horror elements build up suspense. It sows seeds to call back to later in the plot, letting the jokes come naturally. It’s a film that opens up slowly and keeps you invested as you try to solve the mystery of the infection alongside the protagonists.
The film has a relatively small cast and gets even smaller, mainly focusing on the three Americans played by Walsh, Bonita, and Donahue. They all have a great range, showing they can pull off both being infected and being terrified both of which are areas I have seen many actors fall down on. They also manage to pull of the comic timing required for a film like this so they are all wonderfully multi-faceted.
Visually, Summer Camp is gorgeous. The Spanish locations are beautiful, even with the local hill-billy meth lab camper van. Marini’s camera captures this cinematic environment in it’s beauty even when it’s contrasted by plentiful gore and violence.
I found Summer Camp to be a very fun ride from start to finish. It’s got innovation and style that compliment the storytelling well and it kept me enthralled for it’s duration. Definitely one of my top three from this year’s Fright Fest.