Camp Dread has been envisioned as a modern slasher film. This means that it comes steeped in modern homage, particularly when it comes to the casting. There is the presence of Danielle Harris, who has become regarded as a modern-day slasher heroine ever since appearing as Jamie-Lee Curtiss daughter in Halloween IV: The Curse of Michael Myers (1988) and Halloween 5 (1989), while as an grown-up has played regular roles in Rob Zombies Halloween (2007) and Halloween II (2009) and became the lead in Hatchet II (2010) and Hatchet III (2013), along with appearing in a host of other horror films. She is second-billed despite being in only two scenes, both of which come with irony-conscious lines about how she doesnt watch horror films. In addition, there is Felissa Rose, who also gets a producer credit on the film. Rose gained a certain fame after appearing as the gender-confused Angela in the slasher film Sleepaway Camp (1983). Since the 2000s, Rose appears to have discovered the convention circuit and has made appearances in some forty plus other horror films.
B. Harrison Smith is clearly a fan of genre cinema and Camp Dread has been produced with a love of 1980s slasher films in mind. The film sets up the archetypal summer camp setting, the array of victims and a number of moderately gory deaths for them. Smith never does anything particularly genre-bending with this, nothing to subvert or twist the cliches on their head. He delivers some okay despatches, although nothing that leaves you jumping out of your seat. The one area he does surprisingly well is giving the various teen victims well rounded characters a campfire scene where they sit around and all their various problems come to the fore at the same time as tensions play out is well done. This seemed for a time for be taking the film in a different direction, although the disappointment is that Smith never goes any further than that.
About the only major twist we get is that the slasher film has been conflated with the reality tv horror film. Alas, the reality tv horror is nothing particularly new and has been done by a number of other films over the last few years see the likes of Slashers (2001), Halloween: Resurrection (2002), Hell Asylum (2002), My Little Eye (2002), Reality Check (2002), Cruel World (2005), Survive This (2005), Are You Scared? (2006), Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007) and Elimination (2010).
The main problem here is that B. Harrison Smith does a none particularly enervated job of rehashing the reality tv horror theme. The film seems vague about the explanations of what the group are doing there. They are told it has something to do with their going through a rehabilitation program none of them seem to question the fact that a has-been slasher movie producer is allowed to produce the show and is doing so with no camera people or production crew. Nor even for that matter does anybody raise any eyebrows when, as part of the rehabilitation program, Eric Roberts casually mentions that there might also be a killer running around pretending to eliminate people. The film sort of wavers as to whether the killings are real or staged but never seems particularly interested in any of the interplay between the two when you feel like there is enormous potential in the idea of a horror movie producer making a reality tv program and seeming intent on turning it into one of his slasher movies. The final revelation of what is going on seems an improbably contrived one, at which point the films credibility falls apart altogether.