Movie Review: Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Synopsis: Shy and traumatized following a boating accident that killed her family, Angela Baker reluctantly attends summer camp with her cousin, Ricky. She is quickly bullied by the other campers and some of the counselors. But, the camp has an even worse problem, there's a serial killer on the loose.

Who's in it? The movie stars Felissa Rose, Jonathan Tiersten, Karen Fields, Katherine Kamhi and Christopher Collet.

Review: My wife and I both sort of remember seeing this movie when we were teenagers but neither of us remembered a whole lot about it. So, when I came across it on VUDU, I decided to watch it with her last night.

Slasher movies like this are pretty much hit or miss. And, based on the premise, I was expecting this one to fall into that "miss" column. As it turns out, however, it was actually a pretty decent film.

I think the thing that really impressed me about this movie was it wasn't quite as predictable as I thought it was going to be. Naturally, since the murders started after she arrived at camp and the killer seemed to be stalking the people who tormented her, it was easy to assume Angela (Rose) was the killer. But, as the movie progressed, it also became apparent that she wasn't the only viable suspect. Her cousin (Tiersten) seemed to have a serious anger issue, especially when people picked on her. And, even her new boyfriend (Collet) wasn't really above suspicion either for the same reason. Plus, there were quite a few other shady characters at that camp, so a surprise killer wasn't out of the question.

When the killer finally is revealed, there's even a throw-in final twist (that I did manage to predict, but not until just before the film confirmed it) that was actually surprising interesting. I especially liked how the movie actually does hint at the ending multiple times without going far enough to flat out give it away.

One thing that kind of surprised me about this film was, unlike many similar movies made around the same time, there wasn't a ton of sex and gratuitous nudity. In fact, there was no sex at all (just some making out) and the limited nudity there was fit with the overall theme of the film.

I also thought the movie did a good job with the actual murders. There was just enough gore to make you cringe (especially when the cook is killed) but it wasn't exaggerated to the point the movie ceased to be believable. The earlier murders were even done in a way that made the deaths look like potential accidents, allowing the camp to stay open longer.

My only real complaint about the film is I kind of wish we learned a bit more about her cousin. This isn't a huge deal, but he just seemed like he had an interesting backstory that wasn't getting told, especially since his mother (Desiree Gould) seemed a little unhinged.

Final Opinion: There are a lot of bad slasher movies out there but this is definitely not one of them and is one I'd recommend taking the time to watch if you like films in this genre.

My Grade: A


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