The way horror movies depict summer camp, you’d think they were the worst places on the planet—I’ve never been to camp, but I imagine if you’re not getting murdered by a girl that’s actually a dude or accidentally setting a camp caretaker on fire, sending him into a murderous rampage, then I bet they can be pretty fun! Director Alberto Marini also sees the fun in bringing mayhem to camp in his latest thriller Summer Camp, a movie that brings an infectious spin to the storied sub-genre. In it, an unseen terror strikes a group of camp counselors who desperately need to escape their camp before they’re infected by a mysterious virus.
Summer Camp takes place just a couple of days before the kids show up, limiting the carnage to just four camp counselors prepping for a summer of fun—until one of them gets infected by a virus and tries to murder anything that breathes. And that’s pretty much the movie in a nutshell, too. It jumps to the murder and mayhem almost as soon as you learn these people’s names. The quick start is great—it gives you almost no time to settle in—but it’s also when all the screaming begins, and my god is there a lot of screaming.
I don’t know why so many modern horror movies are afraid of silence; they have this mentality that louder is scarier, but rarely is that ever the case. Okay, back to the screaming: once someone is infected by this mysterious rage-inducing virus, it basically turns them into a 28 Days Later zombie, only one that screams constantly forever and always. It. Never. Ends. Honestly, there’s so much screaming and growling and gurgling that it’s actually distracting—by the end of this movie I could no longer tell if the screams were happening in the movie or if they were just going on in my head, like an endless loop of torment and anguish. So yeah, that was a bummer.
Beyond the screaming however, there is actually a cool little twist here—[slight spoiler incoming] the infection wears off after a short time (a short time that probably feels like forever to those getting murdered, though), which actually creates a very cool wrinkle in the narrative. It brings up this interesting dynamic between the people who are infected and those that aren’t—do you kill them to save yourself despite knowing that they’ll be normal after so long? Or do you just try to run from them long enough to survive? I really love that idea and it brought something unique to what is otherwise a by-the-numbers horror movie.
I think had Summer Camp settled down just a little bit and traded in all the screaming for a more quiet, unnerving approach, we’d have a much better movie on our hands because there is some good here—it’s plenty violent, the cast is great, and it actually brings something interesting to the genre. It’s not like this is a bad movie or anything, it’s just a safe middle-of-the-road one that comes and goes without leaving much of an impact.