Return to Sleepaway Camp

Return to Sleepaway Camp DVD cover

Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008)

Years after the bloodbath at Camp Arawak, the campers and staff at Camp Manabe begin to disappear.  The camp’s head counselor and co-owner, a survivor of the original slaughter, fears that Angela may be back!

Obviously, everybody has seen this movie in one form or another before: campers go into the woods, act like idiots and then start dying.  The object of the young campers’ attention this time is Alan, who is clearly mentally handicapped in some way and therefore may have been in charge of writing the script.  At the outset, he is a tyrant and a bully – until ten minutes later when he is the shunned outcast who gets picked on by everybody.  Most of the rest of the movie plays out the same way, which actors and actresses being used as mouthpieces for badly written dialog, as opposed to playing characters.

When things start to go badly, Ronnie (Paul DeAngelo, from the original film) begins to suspect that Angela may be back.  Anybody watching the film will also suspect that because it’s blatantly obvious.  Still, with the killer stopping just short of wearing a name tag, Ronnie accuses one of the counselors, who quite clearly could NOT be Angela because ignorant, moronic characters work just as well as actual suspense: if they can’t figure it out, clearly the audience won’t be able to.  Needless to say, the big reveal at the end fails to deliver in any way.

There isn’t a single facet to this film which works.  There are some creative kills, but they’re invariably dumb and poorly executed.  The characters range from forgettable to unlikeable, with Alan being a prime example.  Clearly, he was meant to be a sympathetic outcast that the audience would feel bad for (like Angela, in the original) but whereas Angela was shy and awkward, Alan is a clumsy oaf who picks on anybody smaller than him and whines when the older, cooler kids do the same to him.  He lashes out at everybody he doesn’t recoil from and makes you really wish they would kill him and put him out of everyone’s misery.  That’s not the only way in which this film tries and fails to recapture the spirit of the original.

No less than three cast members from the original return here to reprise their roles, which should set this film up as an homage to the original, a true “return”.  Instead those characters are flipped on their heads with Ronnie going from “random counselor in nut-hugger shorts” to “focal point of the story”, cousin Ricky going from “bridge between Angela and normalcy” to “extra”  – who shows up twice in the movie to deliver the same backstory we already got from someone else and then to be accused of being the killer for no good reason – and Angela going from “unhinged boy forced to live life as a girl” to “unhinged man forced to live life as a woman pretending to be a man”.  Technically, that’s a spoiler but if you don’t see that coming five minutes into the film, you probably can’t read this sentence anyhow.

The original “Sleepaway Camp”, despite its campiness (pun fully intended), became a cult hit for its inventive killings and shock ending.  This movie fails to deliver on any of that.  Failing this badly isn’t done by accident, it takes work to so completely fail to rip yourself off correctly.

Stars: 1/5



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