Camp Cold Brook
A paranormal team sets to check out an abandoned summer camp where a mass murder had taken place decades previous.
Chad Michael Murray
Michael Eric Reid
Candice De Visser
The title might be a bit misleading.
Camp Cold Brook would have you believe that you might be settling in for a Friday the 13th/slasher knockoff. And if you’re like me, you’ll refrain from reading too much or seeing too much (I try to avoid trailers before reviewing a film), so that you can go in to the experience with a blank slate of expectations.
So imagine my surprise when the film turns out to be a supernatural thriller, with nary a stalker to be found. It’s an original set-up and I can say with a great big smile plastered to my face…
Camp Cold Brook is a hoot.
Chad Michael Murray (best known for the television series One Tree Hill) is reality television star Jack, who, along with his team have made it through three seasons of their paranormal hunting show. But with studio executives breathing down their necks about possible cancellation, they’ll need to up their game to keep this lucrative gig. So newbie to the team, Emma (Candice De Visser) suggests they tackle a mostly unknown and unexplored summer camp in the wilds of Oklahoma – the titular Camp Cold Brook – where decades ago, a massive murder/suicide took place. Also on the initial scouting mission, team members Angela (horror icon Danielle Harris) and Kevin (Michael Eric Reid). Once they arrive and are warned by local law enforcement that they’ll be virtually on their own – they set up their cameras and quickly begin to experience strange phenomenon. Have they hit it big with this particular location?
Murray is as dashing and charismatic as ever. He brings the proper amount of sympathy to the lead role – helped along by the brief illustration of Jack’s home life. You’ll find yourself rooting for Jack – wanting him to succeed, not only because of his personal situation, but because you just plain like him. You can see his passion for what he does, despite a deeper and revealing conversation he has with Emma – regarding the show’s future, somewhere at the film’s halfway point. And there’s the lovely quality Murray brings to Jack – his loyalty and concern for not only his own family, but his work family as well. Murray’s an interesting and engaging actor – and Jack is a great vehicle to display his talents.
Legit Scream Queen Danielle Harris of the Halloween franchise is Angela. You’ll find Harris back in the zone where we know she will excel. Angela (like the rest of the characters) is in danger, so there will be running, screaming and reacting to otherworldly perils. And you’d be hard pressed to find someone better equipped to handle this, than Harris. And since the last performance of Harris’, which I reviewed, was not my favorite, (see my review of Inoperable), it was nice to see her back in top form for Camp Cold Brook.
Horror flicks of this day and age wouldn’t be complete without some sort of giant revelation during the film’s climax. I could sort of see Camp Cold Brook’s reveal coming – but not because the filmmakers plopped down any clues. I would have appreciated a few hints that something on this order was coming. And the introduction of a character late in the game (key to the film’s secret) was an oddball placement. It really does come out of nowhere, for no other reason than to help set-up and explain the film’s secret. It might have felt less awkward had we gotten to know this character earlier in the film – at least peripherally. And based on the character’s relationship with the central characters – it could have been such an easy fix. As is, I had the reaction of “well, that’s convenient”.
One of the film’s executive producers is legendary genre director Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling). So naturally, there are some fun Easter eggs (referencing his extensive film catalog) contained within the film. While I only caught two call-outs to his work (one for Gremlins 2: The New Batch and one for The ‘Burbs), I’m sure there were plenty more.
But to the film’s credit, I was deeply enough involved with the characters and situations, to not be on the constant lookout for potential inside jokes. And that’s a good thing, folks.
The film has some good “boo” moments and some decent suspense. As is the case with any film (well, almost any film) which uses “found footage”, there are the usual scare-tricks present here as well. When someone’s recording themselves, there’s always the “what’s going on behind them in the frame” thing – used to great effect here – notably one of Jack’s late-night “I heard something” treks about the vast camp.
Camp Cold Brook was shot in Oklahoma (as is the story’s setting) and it looks perfectly rural, cut-off and rugged (with the exception of the conspicuously well-tended camp lawns). But the camp buildings, surrounding foliage and set dressing all work to produce the desired effect of isolation and decay.
Courtney Gains (best known for screaming “Outlander” in the 1984 classic Children of the Corn) has a cameo appearance as the head honcho holding the cards of series’ renewal for Jack’s show.
With a unique set-up (like me, you might expect a slasher film – with “Camp” in the title, am I right?), good performances and an enjoyably snappy pace – Camp Cold Brook is an easy recommendation.
The film held its West Coast Premiere at the 18th Annual Shriekfest in Los Angeles – where the film won Best Horror Feature Film. It also won Best Feature at this year’s Horrorhound Film Festival.
It’s still playing the festival circuit, so no wider release information is yet available.