‘Sleepaway Camp’ movie review

No, this lakefront slasher flick didn’t take place at Camp Crystal Lake. Instead, Camp Arawak is the site of youthful killings and is, essentially, the original Friday the 13th, but good.

This would be director Robert Hiltzik’s only theatrical work as his 2008 film, Return to Sleepaway Camp, was a direct-to-video release. The film stars Felissa Rose, Katherine Kamhi and Paul DeAngelo.

Sleepaway Camp centers around cousins Angela Baker (Rose) and Ricky Thomas (DeAngelo) as they are sent to a summer camp by the eccentric Dr. Martha Thomas, played by Desiree Gould. While Gould is in the film for a short amount of time, she is the heart and soul with her enthusiastic tones and side commentary to herself. It is off-putting but there is warm and welcoming feel to her, which is how this movie is.

Even though it is a slasher flick, it’s done very classy and captures summer and summer camps to a tee. The kills are brutal but the gore is done in a way to give some frights to audiences without self-indulging and giving the film a hammy feel.

Aside from Dr. Thomas, the acting isn’t anything award-worthy but I do admire how realistic it is. At points, it does feel like I’m eavesdropping on an actual summer camp. A lot of the dialogue feels natural and sticks to phrasing that these teenage campers would use in reality.

While I enjoyed the plot and the payoff that comes at the end, some viewers may be offended by it. It’s subtle throughout but the film does hint at sexuality and many of the characters question why Angela won’t participate in certain activities with the other girls. She won’t swim with them, play volleyball or take showers around them. She does everything by herself and never says a word to the other girls. She only speaks to the boys.

The film grasps your attention early as a father and a child are killed after being hit by a speeding motorboat and if you don’t focus on detail, you won’t get why this scene is so important to the rest of the film. I’ll leave at that because I really recommend you watch this film and have your own perspective.

It’s going to generate mix reactions from new viewers but I adore this film for its whodunit mystery, realistic feel and memorable kills. Oh, and the baseball scene, can’t leave out the baseball scene.

Rating: 8/10

17 down, 14 to go.

Streaming on: Peacock, Tubi

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