Confessions of a Cinephile – column by David Garrett
- Film: Camp Twilight
- Year: 2020
- Director: Brandon Amelotte
- Writer: Brandon Amelotte and Felissa Rose
- Starring: Linnea Quigley, Dave Sheridan and Felissa Rose
This was a movie that I got the opportunity to see when Jenna Wilen from DarkCoast sent over the screener. I do tend to enjoy slasher films and this seemed like one of those from the information I got. It also has some legends like Felissa Rose, Linnea Quigley and Camille Keaton listed in the cast. Other than that, I came in pretty blind. The synopsis here is after discovering they are at risk of failing to graduate, 6 students agree to a weekend camping trip for extra credit. The problem is, where they’re going has a dark past.
We start this movie off with a newscaster, Tricia Brooks, giving us the history of Camp Twilight. It is the 30th anniversary of a massacre that occurred there. There was a man who drowned in the lake and his body was never found. From there they had copy-cat kills happening in the area. They’ve tried to reopen, but it has never worked despite the different management groups.
The movie then gives us a couple that are camping there illegally. The woman is Veronica (Carlie Carpenter). She wants to go skinny dipping, but her boyfriend doesn’t really seem to be into it. They’re then attacked by a masked killer with an ax. The following morning, a park ranger calls it in. He is Bob Sheridan (Dave Sheridan) and he brings out Art (Steven Chase) as well as Tom (Thomas Haley). They do find an abandoned campsite and some blood, but they don’t have much to go on. Detective Bennett (Vernon Wells) and Cooke (John J Thomassen) also show up. They don’t believe what they’re being told and mock the rangers.
As the synopsis states, we have a group of high school students who are going to spend a weekend here. The chaperones are Jessica Bloom (Rose), who is a teacher, as well as the principal Mr. Warner (Barry Jay Minoff). The students that are coming are Maria (Brooklyn Haley) who is dating Johnny Palmer (Cougar MacDowell). She doesn’t trust him as he cheated on her previously so she’s trying to work through this. There’s Tori Loomis (Angela Gluchowski) who is Maria’s best friend. It appears she is seeing Danny Thompson (Dondre Tuck) who will be on this weekend along with his teammate of Kevin Wynn (Harris Sebastian). Kevin is dangerously close to losing this football scholarship if he doesn’t graduate. There’s also the trouble teen of Sydney King (Hayleigh Hopkins). She’s had a rough home life and a history of drug use. It appears that Kevin is trying to get with her.
Also joining them is Ms. Monique (Tracy Lear), who I’m taking is the school nurse. Richard (Jason Ryan Lovett) is concerned for Sydney as her psychologist. He wants someone there who has medical training just in case. Ms. Monique is dealing with migraines, but willing to come along for the benefit of this troubled teen.
She doesn’t stay long though. We see the masked killer stalk her in the women’s room. Much like her, people on this trip and the rangers start to be picked off. The question becomes, is one of them doing the killing or is someone else?
That’s where I want to leave my recap as that gets us up to speed with this story. This film is really paying homage to the slasher genre for sure. It is interesting that it stars Rose, who helped co-write it, as she starred as a teen in Sleepaway Camp. I do feel this is paying respects to that movie along with the Friday the 13th series with some of its back-story. There are names as well like Loomis (Halloween), Thompson (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Sydney (Scream) and King (Stephen King) that are also what I’m assuming are references as well. It also has Quigley, Rose and Keaton in the movie as well, who are all scream queens of a sort.
I actually thought the movie starts off well as a slasher. We get the opening kill. We get introduced to the characters and then get another kill of Heather (Quigley) and I’m assuming her friend before the kids end up at the camp. This does turn into a slow burn from there, which isn’t uncommon for this sub-genre. I’ll be honest though, this is where the movie loses me. For me, I don’t care enough about the characters and that is the driving force of the movie from there. That causes it to fall flat for me.
Let me dive into that here. Rose is really good as this teacher. I’ve never met her, but I know that she has a bubbly personality from those who have and I love what she does with Jessica’s character. It just feels natural and the changes as things progress works as well. Haley is fine as this character that really likes Johnny, but she is torn on what to do. She is quite attractive as well. MacDowell’s performance fit, aside for what we get at the end. Minoff is fine. Gluchowski is a horrible friend, even though it tries to establish that isn’t the case. I just don’t know if that works for me. Tuck is fine where Sebastian is just over the top with being a jerk. I did like Hopkins, but we don’t get enough fleshed out for her. The cameos of Quigley, Keaton and Sheridan are fine. I’m not sure the purpose of Lear, but she disappears and we never really flesh out what happens to her. The rest of the cast are fine for what was needed. I will admit, I really had issues keeping names straight.
The last thing to go over would be the effects. I will give credit that they went practical. What we get there does look good and it worked for me. An issue I had though is that some of the deaths don’t make sense. There’s one character that is stabbed, is walking with purpose and he dies once he gets to the truck. There’s also one where a character is supposed to be dead, but we can see them breathing and they even blink on camera. These are issues that just don’t work. The cinematography was fine aside from what I’ve laid out here.
Now with that said, as much as I wanted to like this, it falls flat for me. Paying homage to classics of the genre is fine. I respect that they made this movie, but it didn’t feel like enough care was put in to shore up the issues. The story and reveal itself are fine, but it is a bit of a slog to get there. I don’t care enough about the characters to stay invested and I get that is part of what they’re going for. Most of the effects worked. There are just slight issues in that department. The soundtrack didn’t necessarily stand out or hurt the movie either. I’m glad that I watched it, but not really one I can recommend unless you just love the sub-genre. There were just too many flaws for me to go higher and I felt this was just below average for me.
My Rating: 4 out of 10