Sam (Fran Kranz, who’s getting typecast as the guy in a cabin in the woods) is a camp counselor with a staff of twelve. When a masked murderer menaces his campgrounds, he calls his buddy, horror expert Chuck (Alyson Hannigan), for advice on how to survive. Unfortunately, all signs point to Sam being the killer.
This film, like Tusk, started out as banter between two filmmakers (this one on Twitter), and gradually became a reality. It went to film festivals and then straight to video. Despite not having had a theatrical run, it’s a gem. It’s part ‘70s throwback and part millennial smartassery, like title cards giving a death tally: “Dead counselors (so far): a lot”. I’m not a fan of slashers, but I know the conventions quite well, and the parody aspects hit all the marks.
Chuck’s calm acceptance of the situation adds a lot of humor. This is one clever exchange:
Chuck: “You said this crazed killer is a guy, right? Okay, so maybe we should talk about the guys out there, you know? See if we can figure out who this asshole is.” Sam: “How does knowing who it is help me not die?” Chuck: “Well, I think figuring out what they want could help you not die.” Sam: “Smart.” Chuck: “Like, is it an old camper who got teased as a kid and is back for blood?” Sam: “No.” Chuck: “Or is it a parent who’s looking for revenge after a counselor let their kid drown?” Sam: “Jesus, I hope not, no.” Chuck: “Or does one of the counselors have a formerly conjoined twin?” Sam: “What movie is that from?” Chuck: “That could be a huge problem.”
The film is populated by strong female characters. Chuck is the film’s voice of reason. (As she says to Sam after he calls her, “Your phone seems to be working fine. Wouldn’t you rather call the cops?”) There’s also champion hole-digger/weapon-maker Jamie (named after Jamie Lee Curtis), played by Jenna Harvey, and badass Imani (Brittany S. Hall), pictured below in the yellow.
The cast is pretty diverse (though our leads and final girl are white, natch). There’s even a gay chick and a fat guy (though he dies seconds after expressing his enthusiasm for s’mores paraphernalia). A Black man, Brad (Patrick R. Walker), is the guy in charge of keeping everyone alive, showing an ability to think on his feet better than Sam. For a little bit the counselors pull together in a really smart way (which also would have made a cool movie). They build traps, gather weapons, and patrol the area.
Overall, it’s as witty and entertaining as it is gory. Check it out if you’re in the mood for a fun slasher spoof. Stay tuned for a neat cameo from Keith David as the sheriff.