The taglines for Camp Death III in 2D!, to give it its full title, include “This Movie Is Stupid,” “Terror Has Two Dimensions!” and “Sometimes Terror Can’t Be Smelled.” The movie knows exactly what it is and wears its innate badness, to use a completely subjective term, on its sleeve. With pride. Annoyingly, for those who would wish to warn us off it, the flick is actually pretty good fun.
Ostensibly, Camp Death III is a piss-take of Friday The 13th Part III, which boasted AMAZING 3D technology that allowed the onscreen characters to poke the audience in the eye with the end of a broom and whatnot. As much as the tech was probably exciting back in the day, it didn’t actually add anything to the story (it robbed the movie of some much-needed tension, particularly during the sillier moments).
It makes sense, then, that this parody would dispense with the third dimension entirely. However, director Matt Frame and his 17(!) credited co-screenwriters somehow manage to include pretty much everything else one could imagine. There are explosions. There are lightsabers. There are villainous squirrels (via brilliant puppetry in one of two instances of its usage).
The plot, such as it is, concerns Camp Crystal Meph (see what they did there?), which is being reopened by a couple plucky counsellors and their perma-angry boss, for the process of rehabilitating the criminally insane. It’s a goofy setup that would make slightly more sense if everybody in the camp was a killer rather than a thinly-veiled take on a mentally ill person.
Still, when one of the best sight gags involves a counsellor in a wheelchair lying immobilised on the ground trying to get up while an introductory speech happens just a few feet away, such complaints seem redundant. This may be a Canadian movie, but it’s anything but polite. Camp Death III wants to offend, if only to prove that the Great White North isn’t filled with goody-two-shoes eh.
There is a killer on the loose, a kind of Jason-Michael hybrid who has a hockey mask more akin to Voorhees but a boiler suit more suited to Myers. He doesn’t have a signature weapon, instead using whatever is within arm’s reach — a toaster, at one point (“How can it toast so fast!?”) — to attack his victims.
The slasher element is kind of an afterthought, but the Chapter III tie-ins, when they do happen, are pretty clever. Still, considering how over the top everything else is, it would have been nice to see some gorier kills (with less of the dodgy CGI). The body count is relatively high, but aside from the toaster, I can’t think of one other memorable death, which is a real shame.
When the humour works, it really works. There’s a sense that the script is throwing absolutely everything at the wall in the hopes something, anything, sticks, so naturally there are a few laugh out loud moments — it’s the law of averages. In films like this, there’s the danger of feeling like the people making it were having more fun doing so than we are watching it, but there isn’t a drop of cynicism, or a suggestion of pat-on-the-back meta commentary, which is great.
The three leads; Dave Peniuk, Darren Andrichuk, and Angela Galanopoulos, are all terrific, particularly Peniuk as the perennially optimistic Todd, whose tussles with his uncle (a hilariously unhinged Andrichuk) are among the funniest moments in the film. His romance with Galanopoulos’ Rachel feels slightly underwritten, but the two have a natural, easy chemistry.
Elsewhere, it’s stock characters ahoy as a parade of stereotypes trundle by purely to fall victim to the killer’s knife, or lightsaber, or whatever (a comment on post-Halloween slashers’ reliance on one-note characters as human meat, perhaps?). An Irish character who I’m going to refer to as Spuds McGinty, due to his predilection for potatoes, is incredibly offensive and yet also often very funny.
I’m annoyed at myself for laughing at him playing the spoons while doing a jig because I know it’s a caricature and I should fight back against this attack on my people but even thinking about it now is making me chuckle. I’m sorry, everyone. Anyway, Spuds is the most well-developed of the rest of the characters, and yet I genuinely cannot remember his name, even while looking at the movie’s IMDb page.
That’s the kind of flick Camp Death III is: fun, dumb, and memorable for all the wrong reasons. It reminded me a bit of Pool Party Massacre or Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader because it’s so low budget and scrappy that its very existence gives me hope for anyone out there with a camera, some buckets of fake blood, and a load of low-level actors willing to give up their time for a project that won’t crack the mainstream because it doesn’t need or even want to.
It’s offensive, it’s crude, and it makes little to no sense, but Camp Death III In 2D! is kind of impossible to hate. Maybe it’s the unstoppable spirit of Todd Boogjumper, maybe it’s those murderous puppet squirrels, or maybe it’s just because I’ve got a truly terrible sense of humour, but I did not hate this movie and I cannot, in good conscience, advise you to stay away from it.
WICKED RATING: (7/10)
Director(s): Matt Frame
Writer(s): Matt Frame, Chris Allen, Katherine Alpen, Darren Andrichuk, Léonie Armstrong, Shawn Bordoff, Emma Docker, Kyle Fines, Petar Gagic, Angela Galanopoulos, Deb Graf, Niall King, Dave Peniuk, Hans Potter, Nathan Robinson, Nikki Wallin, Starlise Waschuk, Molly Wilson
Stars: Dave Peniuk, Angela Galanopoulos, Darren Andrichuk, Emma Docker
Release date: TBC (currently on the festival circuit)
Studio/ Production Co: Frame Forty Films
Length: 82 minutes
Sub-Genre: Slasher, horror comedy