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Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008)

  Tags: Adam Wylie, blood, Isaac Hayes, Jonathan Tiersten, kids, Mary Elizabeth King, Paul DeAngelo, Paul Iacono, Robert Hiltzik, slasher, sleepaway camp, summer camp, Vincent Pastore

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (5 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 

Rating #: 
Robert Hiltzik
98 minutes
Vincent Pastore, Jonathan Tiersten, Paul DeAngelo, Isaac Hayes, Adam Wylie, Mary Elizabeth King, Paul Iacono

No relation to the horrible Sleepaway Camp 4: Survivor bonus short that was never completed, this film is a direct sequel to the 1983 film, ignoring the previous two sequels and bringing back original writer/director Robert Hiltzik and a few cast members. Filming was actually completed a couple years back, but post-production wasn't finished for a while due to having to go back and tweak the gore and CGI effects. Sadly, even after all the fixes it still didn't come out looking all that great. The film also had trouble finding proper distribution until Magnet Release finally got its hands on it and will release straight-to-DVD next month.

The story in this movie is pretty much a rehash of the first. We’re in a new camp and a kid is constantly picked on by most of the campers and even some counselors and it doesn’t take long before bodies start piling up. Unlike the previous movie, the kid in this deserves to be picked on, as annoying as he is. Fingers are pointed towards the obnoxious fat kid as the killer, but we all know better don't we?

As far as the cast goes, we see the return of Ronnie (Paul DeAngelo) once again playing the gentle-giant camp counselor (dude still looks the same!). Sopranos star Vincent Pastore plays the greedy camp owner and Jonathan Tiersten (Ricky) has a cameo appearance towards the end. The late Isaac Hayes has also has a role as the head chef. (surprised!?)

To be honest, I don't really blame the film for having trouble finding a distributor, as it's a pretty poor movie all-together. The script is full of plot-holes and we're forced to follow one of the most obnoxious on-screen characters I've ever had to sit through. Why Robert Hiltzik decided to make the lead so annoying is beyond me, but because of this we care more about him just dying already rather than feeling sympathy for him getting picked on.

The film offers up some surprisingly creative kills, which is one of the few positive aspects of the movie. Another would be the 80's look and tone of it, and the fact that it delivers a few nice homages to the original. However, that's pretty much it as far as good stuff goes. Sure some of the practical effects were decent, but the CGI was just plain horrible, especially during one kill that involved an explosion. Then there's the plot-hole-ridden story. So many things were left unexplained, especially when the truth behind the kills was finally revealed.

I also had a problem with a lot of the actors picked for this flick -- everyone was same age! Where the hell are the kids!? At times it was hard to distinguish who were the campers and who were the counselors. To make matters worse, some of the counselors (namely the one with the accent) even acted like the campers, picking on the lead kid; what’s with this camp?

Fans familiar with the original know that it gave us one of the strangest twist endings ever within the genre, so how can something like that be toped? Simply put, it can't, but they tried anyway. Sadly, once the character stepped foot on screen I immediately predicted the killer and how it would end, so there goes the proposed "twist ending". Although the previous sequels weren't necessarily good, they were highly entertaining 80's cheese. This, however, took itself too seriously and failed to be as crafty as the first.

I think if the lead character, whom we're forced to watch for 50-minutes, wasn't so damn annoying or if he was killed off early in the film, I might have enjoyed this a bit more. Hopefully the next movie (Sleepaway Camp Reunion) will answer some of these unanswered questions and not have such a hated lead character.

The movie takes itself too seriously and unsuccessfully attempts to be as crafty as its predecessor. The kills are creative and it's one of the better 80's interpretations I've seen in a while, but that's as far as the positive aspects go. The story is full of plot-holes and we're forced to follow one of the most obnoxious lead characters ever set foot on-screen. Fans of the original may want to give this a check to see some of the returning cast members, but I'd recommend avoiding this otherwise.

Posted on July 11, 2009 - 3:18am | FrighT MasteR