Camp Pleasant Lake

Camp Pleasant Lake
Camp Pleasant Lake
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There is a classlessness to the praxis of trauma profiteering that plays out well in Thomas Walton’s micro-budget slasher Camp Pleasant Lake. From being ardent fans who wrote letters to Charles Manson when he was in jail, studios now stream about the infamous killers like Bundy and Dahmer for trending viewers. The film suggests the intriguing concept of exploiting another person’s sorrow or loss for monetary gain but unfortunately, Walton fails to execute this idea well through his “Horror LARPing” approach.

It is set at Camp Echo Lake where Rick (Michael Paré) and Darlene Rutherford (Maritza Brikisak) are now new owners running an immersive Halloween experience. For ten grand you can take part in “Camp of Terror,” which is an all-inclusive murder party giving back to a horrible crime committed on the premises twenty years ago. Echo Meadows poor (Lacey Burdine as Young Echo), went missing after attending Halloween camp at “Camp Pleasant Lake” with her brother Jasper (William Delesk as Young Jasper); meanwhile her parents were killed violently by a cult-like family and her brother’s whereabouts remain unknown. A special effects guru will be present on site once more, guaranteeing that counselors will be randomly “murdered” by him during the event, according to Rick and Darlene, because death should again plague their establishment. Unfortunately though, there is another killer among them and thus it ceases to be a secure theme park getaway.

Again, I’m here for the concept. As both a horror fan and former New Jersey resident tempted me into paying several hundred dollars for Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco’s VIP program called “Crystal Lake Tours”. Like horror movies themselves, we argue how they would fare in our favourite genre films—like Camp Pleasant Lake tries to do. That’s what distinguishes Night of the Living Dead from afternoon news casts—remember that horror films aren’t real. The fact that somebody else’s traumas can somehow become a popcorn entertainment for the rest of us is a haunting part of the film’s background because people love making up slasher flicks and they don’t get giddy with excitement when they hear about poor Echo’s story. There are some great ideas that carry Walton’s screenplay through to its logical end but it ultimately falls flat.

Regrettably, Camp Pleasant Lake only trades in generalized assumptions and stereotypes. Horror blogger Jonah Perrigo (Greg Tally) would be an ideal example: he walks around press badge like it gives him the power of NY city and demanding exclusive interview until shit gets boring as fuck. Rick and Darlene remain stuck on how bad business owners should behave, thus making their characters iconic without being developed enough to make sense to any viewer. As for the counselors who have no names whatsoever, the ones playing out Echo’s abduction plot line are just as blankly chanting “we want blood” horror nerds during their protest as those same campers having terrible connections to her snatchings. But there was nothing genuinely ruminative or self-aware inside the heart of Walton’s storytelling, which fails in his attempt to turn this run-of-the-mill campfire slasher into a massacre we will never forget

To make matters worse, maybe red juices may be flowing from the killer’s spray bottle of Kool-Aid but the way he goes about slaying and slicing is screwed up. Camp Pleasant Lake is nothing outstanding despite dialogues that whimsically offer epic scenes of violence – a run-of-the-mill masked and cloaked killer stabs people with sharp things who fall down dead straight away. The inhabitants must die on sight because other campers would disappear at the slightest hint of counselors giving up the ghost; nevertheless, these are folly in their presentation as to make ridiculously silly scenes of murder. Characters stand in a line begging for their “turn,” skewered and slashed, while others cheer the show’s (minimal) gore that plays out just as disappointingly as it sounds.

The final dagger? Overall quality. Everything feels distractingly staged, like how Walton and David M. Parks always face characters towards the camera, sitting Echo’s family at dinner like the Last Supper, or arranging twenty counselors in a row, screaming one end to the other, behaving like aliens trying to imitate human interactions. Veteran genre actors like Mr. Paré or the Conjurverse’s Bonnie Aarons are lost amidst a cast that has trouble organically delivering a single line, let alone trade banter over campfire beers. Jonathan Lipnicki hammily overplays the film’s worst-kept secret, flashbacks can become undefined in the film’s continuity , and special effects — especially an RV-on-fire sequence — aren’t up to snuff . It was meant to be creepy using “This Little Light of Mine” or giving him a distorted representation of happiness through his mask but all those creepy intentions are overshadowed by Camp Pleasant Lake’s recurring flaws and low-level cinematic merits.

Camp Pleasant Lake wants to match something tenfold more successful than it is such as The Funhouse Massacre or Hell Fest which it never does. All of Walton’s statements about using real-life tragedies are just seedlings that aren’t properly fed. The greatest performer is still to come, and the production hides no gimmicks. Just like those cheap-o sleaze-o midnight flicks that survive on gore scenes, Camp Pleasant Lake is in that genre but it has also failed in this respect. Frankly, everything underwhelms. Characters are cardboard cutouts, there are no surprises, and Walton shows zero control over an obvious whodunit that’s as bland as cafeteria food starving sleepaway campers wouldn’t even tolerate.

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