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  • Rev Horror

Camp Pleasant Lake

Dir. Thomas Walton (2024)

A couple opens a campsite to provide a horror movie experience to fans, but the mystery of a missing girl resurfaces after twenty years.

Slasher films are a dime a dozen, even in the indie horror circuits. It's difficult to come up with anything new, as seemingly every iteration of the genre has already been explored. This makes it difficult in some ways and easier in others: it's difficult to come up with anything the audience hasn't seen before, but it's sometimes easier knowing that they're not particularly expecting you to do so. All you really have to do is make a movie with some good kills, a creepy villain, and you're halfway there to creating an instant classic. Hell, you don't even have to have decent actors, as many of the 80's slashers demonstrated with vigor. Unfortunately, sometimes the actors are so bad that it takes away from the story, as we see in the newly released Camp Pleasant Lake, a movie that attempts to throwback to those 80's flicks in style but one that lacks a lot of its predecessors' substance.

Echo (Lacey Burdine) and Jasper (William Delesk) are two kids heading to a summer camp while their fighting parents (Leila Almas Rose and James Di Giacomo) are going to marriage counseling. Echo is kidnapped by several unpleasant locals (with small roles from Bonnie Aarons, Andrew Divoff, and Robert Lasordo), and she's been missing for the last twenty years. The enterprising new owners of the camp have turned it into a horror movie experience, luring in new visitors with the promise that they can live through their favorite movies by delving into the lore surrounding Echo's kidnapping. When a real killer shows up, however, things being to get even more bloody than they thought.

There's a ton of blood in the film, and way more kills than you usually find in a slasher flick because of all of the victims that have paid to be at the camp. There's not a ton of gore, though, and most of the blood is arterial spray from fairly straightforward stabbings and bludgeons. In that regard, Camp Pleasant Lake is worth watching for the murder and mayhem alone, though the film is likely to come across a bit tame for most horror fans. The killer is decently creepy as well, and of the exceedingly few roles that are well-acted, the Smiley Face Killer (as I am deeming him/her) is one of them.

That is, however, also a very bad thing. You don't really need the killer to be good in a horror film. In fact, sometimes, the cheesier they are the better. You really need likeable and interesting victims in a horror film to make it truly worthwhile. Camp Pleasant Lake doesn't have that at all. The victims are obnoxious at best and truly horrific actors at worst, and while there are a couple victims along the way that pull their weight, the dedication to every single one of them getting a speaking line and showing off that most of them are not very good actors harms the film in a major way. It's so bad at times that its off-putting, and makes the film only as entertaining as your search for bloodshed allows.

All complaints aside, the film is very watchable. It jumps back and forth between timelines but does so in a way that's more explanatory than confusing, and it's a relatively wrapped-up film by the time the ending rolls around. There are very few leaps in logic, and it's a more complete film than a lot of slasher fans will be expecting. For an indie slasher, it's not half bad, and it's far from the worst that I've seen. There's still a lot lacking, however, and this one will end up being relatively forgettable, even if its still worth a watch.

Who this movie is for: Slasher fans, Indie horror lovers, Camp counselors

Bottom line: Camp Pleasant Lake is a watchable indie slasher flick with some decent kills, a fairly entertaining killer, and not a whole lot else. The ending is especially brutal and worth sticking around for, and it's one of the better and more understandable slasher origin stories I've seen. That said, the acting is, for the most part, horrendous, and can really take you out of the story if you're not willing to go along for the ride. It's worth a watch for any slasher fan, however, and it's definitely got a lot of heart behind it. Check it out streaming on Amazon Prime now.

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