Camp Wedding: The Destination Wedding Gets A Summer-Camp Horror Makeover
We’ve got the early insight on writer/director Greg Emetaz’s feature film debut, Camp Wedding, which you can pick up on iTunes on August 20th. The film gives the wedding comedy a nice summer-camp horror makeover in this satire about the “horrors” of modern-day miscommunication.
Back in 1985, Camp Pocumtuck was a notoriously strict religious summer camp until it was forced to shut its doors when a young girl was struck by lightning and drowned. Before that, several women were burned at the stake for being witches nearby and before that, it was the site of a Native American massacre. Nowadays, it's available on Airbnb. The camp’s dark past doesn’t stopp Mia from booking it for her wedding. As her friends utterly fail to help Mia transform the dilapidated camp into the wedding venue of her dreams, they also begin disappearing. But nothing will stop Mia from having a perfect wedding, even when someone starts texting her to hide the bodies…
Camp Wedding takes millennial culture, weddings, and summer camps with a deep history, and blends them into a paste for Jason Voorhees to wear as a facial mask during his off-season. The kooky hipster destination wedding is a great shell for a horror film, but Emetaz isn’t exactly concerned about making a horror film, only finger painting in the dried blood of the genre in hopes of finding a new shape or pattern. His attempts are rarely successful, and his tonal mashing of genres leaves a lot of undesirable pulp and doesn’t always cohere — an intentional aspect designed to reinforce its central theme of miscommunication.
Often in horror films, characters will lose cell service or their phones entirely to intensify their isolation and make them even more helpless, but Camp Wedding takes a swerve in the opposite direction. It goes at length to show how miscommunication via text and social media can be worse than being totally cut off, forcing its characters to interact in person…or suffer the consequences, which aren’t all that severe — the film is more concerned with shoehorning laughs and taking jabs at modern-day tech woes than it is racking up a body count (an aspect that isn’t likely to land well with horror fanatics and aficionados).
Though Camp Wedding is more comedy than horror, it certainly incorporates several horror film elements into its narrative. As you probably read in the description, the camp was once home to a strict religious cult, sacrificed witches, and a Native American massacre, but the grounds are also lurking with ghosts of little girls, knife-wielding invaders, and cellphone-obsessed zombies. Needless to say, it’s a bit overstuffed, and while its genre play leads to some unexpected places, they’re largely uneventful. It feels like Emetaz playing around with something akin to April Fool’s Day, only without clever twists and clear love for the genre it’s affectionately ribbing; however, what it lacks in story, it makes up for visually.
The film is effective at creating a sense of mood and atmosphere, which is evident from the opening scene. This is thanks to the wonderful cinematography from Hiroshi Hara, which gives the film a fantastic style that blends the 80s throwback looks with a modern sheen, and Emetaz’ calculated and smooth direction. Outside of its look, the most notable aspect of the film is its amazing score by Andrew M. Edwards that melds classic horror orchestrations with driving snths, which gives the film a Carpenter-esque feel. On a technical level, everything is pretty well executed and the actors really give their all, but everything comes to a grinding halt due to issues with the unfocused script and rudderless story. It just kinda putters around without much sense of direction or purpose before rushing to sloppily tie up its many loose ends.
What you’re left with is a film that looks great, but rings hollow and can’t quite stick the landing due to all the balls it decided to juggle. This might be enough for some folks, but it won’t be enough for most, especially those horror fans that are looking for clever kills and spooky chills. It’s safe to say that if you like Camp Wedding’s quirky characters that you’ll probably have a bit fun, but since it’s so character-driven, if they rub you the wrong way, you won’t have a good time. One thing’s for sure, the score slaps and should definitely be added to your Halloween playlist.
Recommendation: Do you like wedding movies? Horror movies? Murder mysteries? Gluten-free s'mores? Possessed 1980s toys? Bridezillas hiding dead bodies? Weaponized Operatic singing? Seances conducted with bachelorette party paraphernalia? Or just want to find out how all of this might find its way into one movie--you should see Camp Wedding on iTunes.
Rating: 2 penis-shaped straws outta 5.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!