Writer-director David Kerr’s third feature-length effort, Bloody Summer Camp, follows best friends Tiffany (Kay Leahy) and Kimberly (Chanda Rawlings) driving off to be counselors for summer at Camp Trustfall. Tiffany is excited, as she has fond memories of the place from attending as a child, while Kimberly is going to support her best but is more interested in getting high and laid. Once there, they are introduced to the other counselors, including director Michelle (Felissa Rose), Todd (Cody Faulk), with whom Tiffany shares instant chemistry, the nerdy Donnie (Brendan Lynch), who uses a wheelchair, and the resident a*****e, Zach (Matthew Sharpe).
As the days go by and everyone prepares for the campers’ arrival, their numbers begin to dwindle. At first, it would seem that certain people just up and left, but more and more evidence comes to light that points to murder. Now, the counselors must figure out who is offing them, why, and how to stop the killing spree before they all die and the children are put into harm’s way.
“…the counselors must figure out who is offing them…”
Ever since the release of the absolutely perfect The Final Girls in 2015, summer camp slashers have faced an uphill battle. That film brilliantly melds comedy, drama, horror, and heart into a glorious send-up/loving homage of the subgenre that was so prevalent throughout the 1980s. Kerr is more interested in a straight redux, though several jokes are sprinkled throughout, and that decision is what helps Bloody Summer Camp stand out from the pack.
The film takes the story and characters seriously, so the audience is rooting for (most of) the characters to escape with their lives. But it still delivers enough nods and gags to the horror genre as a whole, or just some offbeat, goofy moments to be memorable and fun. A stand-out moment sees Sheriff Wilmore (Dave Sheridan) and his deputy watching as a white man drenched in what appears to be blood while holding a knife walk by their car, and they do very little. The next moment sees an African-American man (the camp cook looking to escape), who is clean, aside from being slightly sweaty. His shirt is free of anything resembling blood, and he is not holding anything, thus no weapons. But, the cops stop and interrogate him because, well, you know why. This lands wonderfully and speaks volumes while still being hysterical.
However, not every joke works, especially Sheriff Wilmore’s off-putting monologue. During this speech, he claims all the counselors as suspects in the disappearance of Donnie (no body found, so not a murder… yet). He walks up to each person and derides them by calling them names from popular 1980s movies, which is when this is set and concocting an elaborate way they could have done the deed. This is not that amusing, nor do all the references work or make sense. It slows the momentum down, and at a hefty 2 hours and 5 minutes long, Bloody Summer Camp could be trimmed up a bit, with this scene being the most pointless and ready-made to be excised. A few other minor edits, like 10 seconds here or there (the campfire/smores scene is just a bit too long), would also help, but no other section feels as much like padding.
"…next to impossible to predict..."