Salutations my screechers, screamers, and scary dreamers,
Tonight’s tale of terror entitled “Sleepaway Camp” sees a secretive slayer killing kids and counselors at a camp.
The scenario is so obviously prefab that this initially feels like a quick cash grab, but as the film rolls along it begins to feel uncomfortably wrong. The initial unease is in the opening shot which tells us quite a lot as we are subjected to all the traditional camp sounds while panning over deserted campgrounds. Taken on its own, this opening sets the perfect tone while further in the cinematography and lighting tricks add a freshness to the entire mix.
This crispness extends to the story too which may not seem entirely new, but it stands apart from similar slayers by weaving in some darker layers. Our first hint is a pedophile who greets the girls with a lecherous smile and somehow manages to stay employed while talking about how young flesh can be enjoyed. If this character does not creep one out the movie goes out of its way to flout Hollywood’s unwritten regulation against child victimization.
The victims themselves are overplayed by actors who seem new to the trade so the viewer does have to overcome some performances that are ho hum. While some of the actors are fairly inept the lead actress proves so adept at playing the outsider under stress that she quickly wins our kindness. Our empathy with her exclusion only further heightens the conclusion as our discovery of the killer’s shame leads to an impactful final frame.
In brief, with its killer finale and some incredible style this picture is sure to stick with one for quite a while.
Stick to the shadows my fine friends.