Friday 25 March 2016

Dark Film Review – Campground: The Requel (2015)

Dark Film Review – Campground: The Requel (2015)

Review Written By Casey Douglass 

A couple of years ago, I reviewed Studio 605’s The Campground, a horror-slasher in the vein (pun totally intended) of 80s horror films. I gave it 3.5/5 back then, but Campground: The Requel is a re-imagining of the first film, aided by a successful Indiegogo campaign that saw it pull in 271% of the funding it was aiming for. The wording on the Indiegogo page says “Not only do we want to use this rare moment to redeem ourselves on certain plot points but also deliver a much more in depth story and more likeable characters other than showcase the killer, Charlie Varsin.” Did it manage it? Read on to find out.

The film follows the enduring myth of Charlie Varsin, a son killed by his mother Haley (pictured above) with a screwdriver on his 10th birthday. Not really the present anyone would hope for is it? Maybe that’s why he still keeps appearing and attacking naïve groups of young-people as they attempt to party at Little Farm on the River. It’s been awhile since I watched the original Campground, so I’m relying on memory for some of these comparisons, and I don’t still have the original to refresh my impressions. I’m pretty confident of the points I’m about to make though, and I’ve decided that I`ll get my gripes out of the way first.

One of the original issues I had with the first film was with the dialogue audio levels. While the audio in the requel seems of a better quality, there were still a number of scenes that had me reaching for the volume control because the actors’ voices were far too low, only to have my ears complain when another louder scene began. I don’t feel that I missed any dialogue, but having to fuss with the sound was something that did get a little irritating.

Another of the original issues I had was the tone of some of the scenes, particularly when it came to the emotion shown by the actors, or lack thereof. There were disconnects at times between what was transpiring, and the characters’ reactions, changing from shouting or screaming one moment to mono-tonally talking about what was happening a few moments later in the tone of voice you’d use to read a shopping list. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film but it was another area that I did hope the requel might address.

Now on to the good stuff. The extra story locations and characters seen in the requel certainly added a good amount of interest to the story. If anything, I found the daytime scenes that came between the two night settings to be a refreshing change, after all, horror that lingers in the light of day, even if it is just in memory is a lot harder to do than creeping menace cloaked in shadows. The extra locations came with a nice collection of extra characters too, from the Echo Grove mental institute in which Haley Varsin is currently locked away, to a bookshop with its very own paranormal group. These extra characters give the film a wider canvas to draw from to inject more interest, and often humour, into things. It just feels like it has more space to breath than the original, and that's a good thing.

While I might have had issue with the speech audio levels, the backing soundtrack was another matter and I found it to be uniformly good at setting the mood in typical horror movie fashion, ominous drones and agitated strings lurching into creepy motion. Good stuff on this front.

When the film allows Charlie Varsin to get his hands on people, the action scenes are often very enjoyable, with some pretty visceral throat stabbing and neck-breaking going on, although some of the neck-breaking did fall into the “blink and you might miss it” category, which is a bit of a shame. Some of the longer fights were interesting to watch and in a particular one the viewer will probably find that they are intently counting something as one of the characters fights. I won’t say more than that, but the fact that I found myself counting along was certainly a sign that the scene had pulled me in.

Overall then, Campground: The Requel does, in my opinion, improve on the original film in a number of ways, but some of the original flaws seem to persist which is a shame. With this in mind, I give Campground: The Requel 4/5, and recommend it to anyone that likes their horror a little rough around the edges but with a dark heartbeat to it.

Film Title: Campground: The Requel
Studio: Studio 605
Director: Roman Jossart 

Campground: The Requel Images Copyright © Studio 605