Horror franchises are a tricky thing; in order to keep the audiences coming back for more, you have to up the ante with each passing installment. We see this in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw, and especially Friday the 13th, which took its killer, Jason Voorhees to New York City, Hell, and even space by the time they decided to reboot it. And I suppose, if you decide to do a parody of one of these films, you’ll have to pull out the stops even more. That’s precisely how you get Camp Death III in 2D, a movie that has as much subtlety as a German scat video directed by Ryan Murphy.
Camp Death III in 2D is an exercise in excess, from its incessant use of the word ‘fuck’ and its conjugations to its blood and guts that the screen is oftentimes bathed in, and whether or not this last sentence has you excited or wary will decide if this movie is the right one for you.
The film revolves around Camp Crystal Meph (Get it?) and the new counselors and camp attendees. Man-child counselor Todd has a great idea for his foul-mouthed Uncle Mel: reopen the camp as a therapeutic camp for the mentally-challenged. Much like Camp Crystal Lake being cursed by the spirit of Jason, so to is Camp Crystal Meph haunted by the spirit of its own killer, Johann Van Damme. And much like its predecessor film series, the counselors and campers start to get picked off one by one. Has Johann Van Damme come back from the grave to seek his revenge? Or is there someone else behind it?
How do you review a movie like Camp Death III in 2D, a movie that describes itself as “The Most Horrible Good Movie Ever!” right on its poster? The film itself has such a “Go fuck yourself” attitude that it’s nearly impervious to anything that I can really say about it, but I’ll try my best.
To be honest, the comedy just doesn’t work for me. From the beginning, this movie’s funny bone and I just didn’t see eye to eye, and a lot of that had to do with the character of Uncle Mel. Uncle Mel is a real shitbag, and his shtick wears thin in the first minute he appears on screen. I can appreciate a foul-mouthed character. Hell, I probably curse more on a daily basis than I even realize, but there is a point of no return, where swearing becomes excessive and rings false.
The word ‘fuck’ is a weapon and some writers use it with the precision of a surgeon. In the song “A Better Son/Daughter” by Rilo Kiley, the word ‘fuck’ is used exactly twice; maybe not as much a hip-hop song, but more than most songs that see the light of day on the radio. But the word isn’t used in either instance to shock or to provoke; it’s use is so precise and so powerful that no other word will do. Now compared to, an admittedly different medium entirely, this scene from Rules of Attraction, where Clifton Collins Jr. uses the word ‘fuck’ upwards of 12 times in 30 seconds. It’s like a boy just learned he can masturbate and just can’t help himself. That’s where Camp Death III in 2D lands on the ‘How overused is fuck in this movie?’ scale. It’s quite high. If I bring back the metaphor of the surgeon, Camp Death III in 2D wields ‘fuck’ like a drunk hunter with a shotgun.
That seems to be the prevailing theme with this movie; it doesn’t seem to know when enough is enough. The common theme with some of the best horror comedies is that they know when to be comedies and they know when to be horror films. Shaun of the Dead works as both a horror movie and as a comedy. It even has emotional moments when there needs to be true feeling that makes the horror aspect feel like something of gravity.
This film wants to be the horror comedy answer to Wet Hot American Summer. The comedy is so scatological and so constant that it lets neither the comedy nor the horror breathe. So what are we left with? What is the overall point of a movie that doesn’t take its horror seriously and crams itself so much with punchlines that you don’t know what the joke is? I’m not particularly sure, to be honest with you, especially when the first impression of this movie is “The Most Horrible Good Movie Ever!” If this is unabashedly bad, and aware of it, why am I watching this?
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to tell the reader that director Matt Frame reached out to the site to see if we’d be interested in writing review, and my answer is always yes. In the previous paragraphs, I’d say I was quite critical of the film, but I appreciate what Matt Frame was able to accomplish. He made a feature-length film, which is more than I could say I’ve ever done. I’ve written a few screenplays, but Matt Frame made a whole movie and more or less, carried the weight of the production on his back, acting as everything from writer/director all the way to lighting and sound. It takes a lot to make a movie, especially one on a micro-budget, so I commend Matt Frame on taking his passion and following through with it. Hopefully, if I ever see his next project, it’ll be more of my cup of tea.