Summer Camp, 2015
Written and directed by Alberto Marini
Starring Maiara Walsh, Diego Boneta, Jocelin Donahue, Andrés Velencoso
Four American counselors at a European summer camp must deal with the outbreak of a rage-inducing plague among the children they are supervising.
[REC] producer Alberto Marini turns director in this Spanish horror tribute which is full of thrills, spills and some effective scares.
The movie follows four American summer camp instructors who have come over to Spain for work experience. The two males of the group have worked together previously, but the girls are new to the guys as well as each other. Sadly for them their summer of fun looks come to an abrupt end when a mysterious infection hits them and turns them into mindless rage-induced crazy people who just want to kill.
Summer Camp is all about trust, or lack thereof. These four people barely know each other, and some don’t even trust each other to do simple trust exercises, which then comes into play when it comes to their survival down the line. It’s a brilliant plot device that carries out over the entire movie perfectly, building to an epic conclusion. As a viewer, we know who they should trust which only makes the tension and drama more palpable.
But it’s not all good fun. The first 10-20 minutes of Summer Camp are pretty tricky to sit through due to an obscene amount of sub-par acting and terrible script work. The main problem the film has is that the four Americans are incredibly flat caricatures who show no signs of personality or charisma. The four do improve as the movie proceeds, which was needed in order for the horror to work. And this is all down to Marini’s direction, as he gets some great performances from his actors as well as creating some impressive jump scares.
This review won’t go into spoiler territory, but there is a twist that hits Summer Camp about halfway through that totally turns the movie on its head. We’ve seen zombie movies, we’ve seen infection movies – we’ve seen this story done a million times before – but Marini puts a little salt and pepper on Summer Camp to give it a new flavour which again plays into the overarching theme of trust. It’s a marvellous plot point and the real reason why Summer Camp is such a joyous movie. Not only does it create some fabulous character moments, it keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire running time because you have no idea where the movie can go from here.
Summer Camp does suffer from a few issues – mostly in the first act – but once it hits its stride it’s a tremendously great ride. As soon as the real plot kicks into gear and the cliché horror guff is done with, Summer Camp is fantastic, bloody, scary and downright enjoyable. As a producer, Alberto Marini has shown great taste in movies, but he shows here that he also a keen eye for direction. Here’s hoping he returns to the chair again soon.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.