Camp Hell

"Very Good"

Camp Hell Review


Even with some unnerving supernatural elements, the scariest thing about this low-key horror film is the earnest spirituality of the Christian community. The grounded approach and honest performances are provocative and unsettling. As is the fact that it's based on a true story.

Against his will, teenager Tommy (Denton) is sent to a Camp Hope by his deeply religious parents (Delany and McCarthy). More like a military bootcamp than a week of summer fun, the camp is run by a cult-like covenant community. The rules Father McAllister (Davison) enforces are painfully strict, although Tommy scores points because he's reading Dante. Fortunately, no one knows about his crush on Melissa (de Angelis). Meanwhile, after a violent demon-related incident, Daniel (Eisenberg) has been in a mental health facility for six months.

A blend of evangelicalism and catholicism, this devout religious community is never satirised. The portrayal is eerily realistic, complete with small signs of cultish tendencies, such as the prohibition on leaving the camp, using mobile phones and all expressions of pop culture. Of course, anything even hinting at sex is harshly forbidden. But the film quietly questions every sweeping doctrinal statement and churchy cliche, all while slowly building a sense of underlying suspense.

Writer-director VanBuskirk's serious approach makes the film especially involving. The eerily quiet scenes are laced with thoughtful dialog and performances that are honest and engaging. We understand Tommy's questioning ("Why does the devil have so much power?"), as his grandfather's words of wisdom are dismissed as the advice of a fallen man and his nightmares suggest that a demon is after him. But all of this is played introspectively, cleverly adding layers of interest through creepy dreams, nightmares and visions.

So by the time things start turning darkly nasty, we're thoroughly involved in the story and characters. Horror fans might find the build-up too slow for the genre, and when it finally cuts loose, it gets seriously freaky without ever being overwrought. It's impressive that VanBuskirk creates such a strong creep-out without either histrionic filmmaking or excessive special effects.

Instead, we have a surprisingly astute exploration of the dangers of glib religion oppression, with an added dose of terrifying demonic possession.



Camp Hell

Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd December 2011

Budget: $3M

Distributed by: LionsGate Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 3.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Laylee Olfat,

Starring: as Daniel, as Timothy, Joseph Vincent Cordaro as Ryan, Kennan Budnik as Altar Boy, as Melissa, Gary DeMichele as Hobo, as Tommy, Jaron Downs as Camp Brother, as Christian, as Fr. Phineas McAllister, as Patricia Leary, as Michael Leary, Ato Essandoh as Priest, Charlie Hewson as Paramedic

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.