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CAMP COLD BROOK (2018)

Directed by Andy Palmer
Written by Axel Carl
Starring Danielle Harris, Chad Michael Murray, Courtney Gains, Michael Eric Reid, Cate Jones, Candice De Visser, Loren Ledesma, Mary Kathryn Bryant, Jason Van Eman, Mary Buss, Doug Van Liew

I’m not saying that CAMP COLD BROOK is going to blaze new ground in the world of horror, but any film with Danielle Harris screaming and running from ghosts as well as a cameo by CHILDREN OF THE CORN’s Courtney Gains is worth checking out for any hardcore horror fan. While at times, this film feels like Saturday afternoon ScyFy filler, it does manage to convey a nice sense of gloom and doom and even managed to jolt me a bit. All of it making CAMP COLD BROOK something slightly above the usual direct to video horror fare.

A group of paranormal investigators are on their way to be cancelled and need an episode like no other in order to keep the lights on. Lead investigator Jack (Chad Michael Murray) promises his producer (Gains) that this upcoming episode is going to be the one that proves that ghosts do exist. The rest of the team is rounded out by impetuous cameraman Kevin (Michael Eric Reid), believer and scout Emma (Candice De Visser) and of course, fan fave Danielle Harris playing secondary investigator Angela. Emma uncovers a site where no investigation group has ever gone before, Camp Cold Brook—a site where a group of children were sacrificed by a crazy woman who is said to have witchy powers. Taking the leap, Jack and the crew load up the Mystery Machine, grab the handheld cameras, and head out to make the best show they can. Unbeknownst to them, they are headed into a haunted hotspot and though they’ve never caught anything ghostly on camera before, that luck is about to change big time.

I had a few issues with CAMP COLD BROOK. The film takes about twenty minutes too long to get into the action. We really don’t need the subplot with Jack’s family back home or even the meeting with the producer (even though it’s great to see Gains get work). The film should have started out at about the 20 minute mark and it would have much less of a drag going into CAMP COLD BROOK. There’s also a super-late in the game development involving a character being introduced over an hour in that just doesn’t fit right. Add in some good old discourse explaining the plot to us in the last act, and you’ve got an imperfect film.

Once we get to the camp though, there’s a good forty or so minutes of spooky fun and the film actually picks up a lot of steam. Having cleaned an abandoned camp a few summers ago all by myself (stayed there for a week alone tempting the fates and hoping a slasher film would happen around me—it didn’t, sadly) and having worked on a ghost hunting show for a short while back in the day; the location, the setup, and the camaraderie shown between the team as they set up the cameras and such all felt legit. There was also some nice relational stuff between the team with the actors lamenting on what looks to be the end of their stint with the show and talking about the fun they had on previous gigs. All in all, these were well acted and interesting scenes to see play out before the spooky shit starts.

Things do get spooky and sideways featuring a couple of nicely orchestrated moments of tension and scares. The best of the bunch, of course, featuring Danielle Harris who is a hell of a great actress and should most definitely get more jobs in better movies. Murray isn’t bad either as the lead, though most of his work involves him trying to keep this group together as they start to fray at the ends. The effects are kept to a minimum and are relatively low fi, relying on camera trickery and some wonky editing to make everything creepy.

Just higher than mediocre sounds like a putdown when I write it out, but that’s what CAMP COLD BROOK is. Harris and Murray up the acting level a notch and there are a few quality scares. I know it’s not a sparkling review, but if you’re in the mood for a time waster, you definitely could do worse than this one.