Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Camp Cold Brook Casts a Spell from the Darkness: A Film Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by director Andy Palmer.

Director: Andy Palmer.

Writer: Alex Carl.

Cast: Chad Michael Murray, Danielle Harris, Courtney Gains and Michael Eric Reid.

Camp Cold Brook is an indie title from director Andy Palmer (The Funhouse Massacre) and new screenwriter Alex Carl; famous horror director Joe Dante (Gremlins) also co-produced this feature. More of a supernatural thriller than a horror film, Camp Cold Brook focuses on bringing the tension through the periphery. A witch is constantly hovering just off of screen, in search of vengeance. Starring Scream Queen Danielle Harris (Halloween 4), Chad Michael Murray (House of Wax) and Courtney Gains, this title utilizes a great setting, to tell a tale of remembrance. A bit stale in the first act, events pick-up in the middle and in the end as cursed characters emerge from the gloomy water. Camp Cold Brook is a decent thriller, with one witch bent on adding one or two more characters to her bubbling cauldron.

This viewer saw the film as more of a supernatural thriller, than a horror feature. Horrifying or surprising elements are minimized until the finale. Meanwhile, a story has its skin peeled back, like an onion, to show why certain characters have arrived at this isolated camp. A shadow moves here or a hand disappears there. But, there is very little direct confrontation between this dark spellcaster and her targets. And, with a body count of one, horror fans might be disappointed by all of the subtleness chosen by the filmmakers.

Still, Camp Cold Brook creates a strong web on which the story rests. Some of the characters know each other better than what the plot initially reveals. As well, there is a flashback or two, to show the witch's misfortune and the loss of her child. This McGuffin fuels the witch's desire for vengeance. But, when poison does not work, more spells are brought out and focused on a film crew - a film crew in search of much needed television ratings.

This viewer enjoyed the setting chosen by the filmmakers. Camp Cold Brook is well spread out and the film never feels enclosed. Almost all of the shots are taken outside. Closer to the end, director Palmer utilizes a number of night shots to enhance the darkness of the villains. And, there is a consistent creepy tone, within the film. The naturalness of the setting also enhances the isolation of the characters. It is great to see an indie feature shot outdoors, for a change.

Finally, this film fan also enjoyed the use of a witch as a villain. Not since 7 Witches (2017) has this viewer seen a conjurer used in a thriller. Somewhat uncommon, it was interesting to see what this black hat was cooking in her soup. When not poisoning children, this hag would appear at inopportune times, to shock a character or two (see pic' above). However, this antagonist stayed mostly in the shadows, until a final confrontation near a river. Outnumbered, this witch still had enough power to take on an entire film crew. Villains and heroes were evenly matched in Camp Cold Brook.

This title will release on Valentine's Day, for lover's of film. To show in a few theatres and on Digital platforms, Camp Cold Brook is a somewhat subdued thriller. Though, events do build to a decent, late character and plot reveal. Along the way, all of the actors bring great performances, with Harris giving one of her best terrified faces. This viewer enjoyed all of the night shooting. And, with cursed characters emerging from dark waters, Camp Cold Brook is a decent release, from a group of filmmakers that understand their craft and especially their characters.

Overall: 7 out of 10.

A Trailer for the Film on 28DLA: A Camp Cold Brook Trailer on 28DLA

Camp Cold Brook at Petri Ent. w/More Story Details: Camp Cold Brook at Petri Ent.

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