Wednesday 5 March 2014

Dark Review - The Campground

Review of The Campground

A film directed by Roman Jossart

Review written by Casey Douglass 

  (I was given a free copy to review)

I never was a fan of camping. I didn’t mind the weather or the cold; it was the hard ground that always got to me. I know you can buy those little mattress/padded things but then it’s not really camping is it. You might as well just take your bed!

Well this film doesn’t improve my opinion on camping one bit, although it does do the important public service of hammering home the idea that you shouldn’t just camp any-old-where. You might just end up dead!

The Campground begins with a bickering couple driving through sunny fields on the way to a birthday party. They stop for a toilet break and both end up being off’ed before they manage to get back to the car. The title credits roll and the film proper starts. So far so good.

The film revolves around a camp ground in which a mother killed her son in the 80’s. It’s now the present day and a group of friends gather there to party, drink and have sex. In typical horror fashion, they get separated by call’s of nature, the need to fuck and to selfishly smoke joints without sharing. You can imagine what happens to most of them. 

I really liked some of the angles and techniques used in shooting the film. I’m no movie expert but I just knew what I liked. For some of the scenes, the camera is at an angle and this allows the scene to be framed in a novel way, such as the ladder going up to a bunk-bed when Brandon (played by the director) lays on his bed beneath. There is also a great scene in a cabin where the camera changes to the hand-held kind and follows the view of a torch-beam. With the other stuff going on like thumps and panicky breathing, it was a really effective change of pace.

The soundtrack to the film was well thought out, beginning with the punk rock styling of The Vains but soon switching up to the usual creepy piano and ambient menace of a horror film. The only issue I had with the rest of the audio was that in some scenes, particularly an early one around the camp fire, the audio of the actors was very hard to pick out against the other ambient sounds. This didn’t really occur as the film went on but was a little disappointing.

The acting in the film varied from very good to a bit flat which affected the tone of some of the scenes. A notable one was after the dead body of someone was found and one character gets up and suggests going for help in such an emotionless way that the scene was ruined for me. Thankfully the majority of the film was suitably gripping and enjoyable.

The horror itself was done very well, with nice gruesome effects and variety in the various demises of the friends. It made good use of flashbacks to tell the tale of the original 80’s tragedy and also a character’s memories. These utilised bright colours which were a stark contrast to the murky darkness of night that cloaks the action in the rest of the film. 

Throughout the film there was some humour and some references to other horror tropes, explicitly referenced in character dialogue or just written on the props. I liked this, especially the typical doughnut eating cop that turns up at one point.

I enjoyed The Campground. As an homage to 80’s horror I think it nails it. The flaws mentioned above are negligible when you look at the film as a whole, and for Roman Jossart’s first film, it is a fine effort.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Campground Links