August 8, 2016

VOD Review:: Summer Camp (2016)

"Crystal Lake, this ain't."
Don't let the above blurb give you the wrong impression; Summer Camp isn't a bad movie. It's a movie with a great premise and an exciting twist that was poorly written in places, and it's a bit too jumbled and confused throughout, but it's not "bad."

It's just with a title like Summer Camp, the first thing that comes to mind are visions of Friday the 13th, The Burning, or Sleepaway Camp, and this movie is not quite on their level. 

*If you don't want the movie spoiled for you, do not read any further.

Summer Camp is the story of three young twenty-something Americans who are hired to work at a remote Summer Camp in Spain, to teach the local children English. In the opening scene we're told via news report that they went missing, and local authorities believe that they will never be seen again. The rest of the movie takes past in a flashback of the day before the camp is set to open, where we get to see just what happened to them. 

Before the kids arrive at the camp, our unlucky trio, along with a local Spanish dude, decide to get to know one another by doing trust exercises that involve them blindfolding and chasing each other through the woods. There's plenty of other things to do around the creepy old camp (as it's pretty run down), but they never really get to that stuff, because before they can, some sort of rage-inducing virus takes a hold of them, causing them to savagely turn on each other.

A desperate and challenging attempt at survival ensues. 

I won't spoil he twists that the plot undergoes in this section, as the movie really does do the whole Infected thing in a very different way, so why ruin it. I will ruin it all below though, so be warned.

Summer Camp was an energetic and intense movie, if a somewhat underwritten one.

The premise of the movie, which involves people becoming infected, but only for a short time, was a pretty genius stroke; sure, go ahead and kill your friend to stay alive, after all, they're infected monsters who want to tear you apart with their bare hands. Remember though, that shit will wear off in a while, and then they'll be dead for nothing, and you'll be a murderer.

If nothing else, this movie put a great spin on an old, overused trope.

The main problem that we had with Summer Camp is that as fresh of an idea as it is, it's too quick-cut for its own good. I'm all for quick pacing, and some intense action, but this movie could have used a bit of restraint in both of those areas. Someone get infected, goes wild with rage, chases the others around trying to cave their heads in, then they calm down, then the infection kicks in on someone else, and the whole thing repeats. That's to be expected, as Summer Camp is the baby of Alberto Marini and Jaume Balaguero, both of whom brought us the [REC] series, but this one doesn't ever reach the level of terror that those films, at least most of them, achieved.

A lot of the movie is very dark too, so it's not easy to see what's going on in some scenes.... which is made worse by the shaky cam, which is ever present in this one, and even shakier than it is in most movies.

All of that would be easy enough to put up with if we actually cared about the characters. The beginning of the movie is supposed to be an introduction to them, but served only annoy and confound. The actors did as good of a job here as they could have, given the material they had to work with, but it was rough-going early on, dialogue and acting-wise. Once things kicked into gear though, Maiara Walsh's character was basically the only one we ended up really liking. We love us some Jocelin Donahue, but man was her character ever a selfish bitch.

It was annoying at times, fun at times, and pretty intense throughout, but in a really uneven way. The scene at the end was great though, and we would have loved to see more of the movie be about that.

There are some gory bits throughout this one involving blood and some mysterious black goo, but the movie is so dark and shaky that we don't get to see a lot of it on-screen. 


Overall, Summer Camp is a clever movie that puts an interesting twist on the standard Infected storyline, but it suffers from some mediocre writing (especially early on), and visuals that are confused, really dark, and very shaky.

It's a half-and-half kind of movie for us, and one that you might want to check out if you don't need your fright flicks to be perfect. We're just picky.


Summer Camp is available on VOD, and in limited theaters, now.
The ever-lovely Jocelin Donahue and her pal Maiara Walsh.


  1. OMFG,the sprinklers, that was freaking brillant.

    Loved this movie, even with it's few flaws. Maybe my TV is just a bit brighter, it's a new 4K, cause the movie was plenty bright for me.

    1. I have a pretty kick-ass 2k TV (not upgrading to 4k until it dies), and it was really dark in parts. Then again, I'm one of those guys that tweaked the settings to certain levels when I got it, so it could be that.

      I've heard other people say the same thing though, so I'm not 100% crazy lol

  2. The morning following watching Summer Camp my wife asked me if I liked it and I answered back, I don't know. There were parts of this movie I really liked, like the twist on the familiar virus/ rage outbreak and the moral struggle it presented, as your review points out. There were some great scares, I thought the scene with the dog was really well played. It was funny in parts, like the throwing of the cell phone scene and other bits like that. But then in parts the acting was really bad, and the characters were maddeningly annoying or ignorant. If you want to use the phone in private, just say, "hey I need to make a personal phone call, can you just give me the room!" There were long stretches of Spanish spoken leaving me wondering if I got a copy without the subtitles and other stretches in English that were just as confusing. Left me thinking, this could've been really great, but fell so short.

    1. Agreed. It was definitely a mixed bag.

    2. OK, so basically this movie is misclassified. To me, this was a pitch black comedy of errors. A horror version of a Seinfeld episode. Everyone kept beating up people that had went to normal. It was all set up from the beginning, saying the dog went crazy, then showing him normal, the dog drinks water, them goes nuts. So you had the answer to the movies questions. Including the sprinkler ending.

      Also, for that 10 years I had 3 different projectors, so talk about dark scenes. Going from that to a 4k 60inch is like night and day.
      Plus I don't have satellite or cable TV. I have a computer connected the TV, and if has a bad ass Nvidia card, so I don't think a normal Blu-ray player can't compete with the quality. It just is a little brighter with less artifacts in it.

  3. If you haven't seen the movie yet and intend to do it, don't read my comment.

    The characters were badly written. Will, Mr. Playboy, f*cked up last time because he got caught two-timing but still has been hired. He wasn't too bad a guy but the only reason to root for him is the fact that with him, the girl(s) have a better surviving chance. It would have been better if he truly felt in love and sticked to her to the end.

    Antonio, the spanish dude told Michelle about Will's flaws because he wanted to have her for himself. Died to soon to matter.

    Christy was an overall bitch and this character is the pits. Come on, why the hell should somebody like her consider to take this job anyway and if she did, wouldn't she be smart enough to look up if the camp features all those things she really cares for like a daily hot shower and plenty of chances to show off her fancy dresses? I mean, if somebody wore a fancy dress on the big farewell party on the last night, this I can imagine but to wear it at the first night although she was freezing the whole time? Bullshit! And the line "I thought in Spain it's always warm." is absolutely ridicilous. She was a grown-up, wasn't she? She should know that life is no fairy tale.

    Michelle has been designed to be the good one. If they were friends, I could have bought it but dealing with total strangers it would be natural to be at least a bit egoistic.

    And the ending was just blargh. You ate those mushrooms but can't drink the water again?

    1. I don't think Will was the one 2 timing. I think it the dialoge was meant to inply that, but if you go back and listen to the conversation, I think they are talking about what antonio did. Notice that later you see that Antonio was the player and the liar. What he said to Will about not having problems this time was him just making a joke about himself. I didn't for one second think that Will would be the one 2 timing girls. I knew from that minute that it must have been a trick to the audience to start mistrusting Will. The idea was to begin to doubt what you were seeing on the screen.

    2. In fact, I don't even care which one of them did it, both of them were at fault by making jokes about it as if being caught sucked but none cared about the girls involved. And the term "hook up with" said it all. It already stated that the man just wanted to get into her pants and no feeling attached.

      Plus, if you lay something like that out for the audience, please give them some meat. Where was the sex scene? Oh, no nudity! No skimpy outfits either. Pretty people and that's all we got.

  4. Overall, an enjoyable film but there were too many flaws. The final part were the kids drank the infected water, they could've just drank the water too to survive. But instead, they chose to ran and get chased by the kids. Christy deserved to die, though. She's a bitch from the start. Haha!

    1. Agreed, they should have just drank the water, it didn't make much sense but it was still a cool ending.

  5. I'm a little confused by some of these comments. I've read a few people say the characters are poorly written but the only evidence is that they're not likable.

    Writing unlikable and writing poorly are two different things. Just because you didn't like the characters doesn't mean they were written poorly.

    Don't get me wrong, it's valid to criticize the movie for having unlikable characters, but that's not the same thing as poorly written characters.

    I didn't necessarily like most of the characters, but they were all pretty consistent in who they were and how they acted, so I find a hard time reconciling these complaints about bad writing.

    1. In all fairness, the characters are pretty thin, not very sympathetic, and the words that come out of their mouth are awkward and poorly written (at least early on), so as unlikable as they may have been, it's nto a huge stretch to say, or even imply, that they're poorly written as well.

      But point taken.

    2. Sometimes this simply gets into opinion.
      When people watch movies in general, I believe most view it in one of 2 ways. They either accept that they are watching a movie(I think this is maybe 90%+ of the worlds movies watchers) and just take as it is where they either thought the movies was interesting or they didn't, which is why "popcorn movies" do so great in that they give that huge chunk exactly what they want. They is why the Transformer movies do so well even though most past the first one basically a really expensive garbage. The second way of looking at it(The less than 1% or that final 10% or so) is based on how the movie was made, taking a critical look at substance, and how the movie was actually crafted. NOW here is the thing, There is actually a 3rd way(and that is where we see people on this blog in particular) where someone takes and separates movies up into subs, and can watch a movie, know it's pure trash, and just freaking love it anyway. We don't care about paper thin characters or plot abuse, just that a movie was simply fun and it killed 90 minutes or so that we weren't doing something worse, like stuck in a russian gulag(LOL). It's going to be hard for me to get someone who can't separate a movie from it's crital view, and try and reason with them that "Hey man, didn't you at least think the movie was fun, besides all it's flaws?".
      Some people just can't go there, and hey, it's all good.
      I'm not going to be a dick and say hey you are wrong and I am right, although some of those critical people will certainly do the same back at me, because at the end of the day I too have been in their shoes where I've just seen a movie that was just plain garbage but it's up for an oscar and I just can't for the life of me figure out why, lol.