Let’s go camping.
We follow Zack Weiland as he decides to go camping for 60 days (for some reason). My guess this is trying to entice fans of Survivor Man, but the 60-day timespan is quite unbelievable. Even in Survivor Man he limited his outing to a week. The similarities between this movie and that show are hard to ignore—it is basic a carbon copy.
The survivor shows are entertaining enough, but the hosts have a natural charisma that is needed to keep viewers engaged. Zack isn’t an unlikable lead, but he lacks the star-power that a lot of these other guys have (and the big budget advertising/marketing department). Even having some montage at the start to boost his ethos would have helped a lot. Right now, we just jump right into some dude building stuff in the forest.
The first night he is in the forest some weird stuff starts happening. We know this is a horror movie going in, but Zack doesn’t—so why doesn’t he bail quickly? Further, we keep shifting between instructional survival stuff and pretty standard found footage horror. The idea is interesting, but right now it is more of a stark tone shift than anything else. Also, and perhaps harshly, horror junkies might find the survival stuff between the scares and mystery a little boring. Likewise, survival junkies will probably not like how many cuts we have during the actual hunting and resource gathering sections. I think the idea of this movie kind of works against it self in these areas.
We also get to deal with the film skittering and warping whenever he is near something scary. I think this is becoming my new pet peeve in horror films. I get that this is a trope in horror, but I wish it would end. It isn’t scary, and you will just be reminded that you are watching a movie. The constant date reminders also break the spell of the film.
The tension works mostly. We do have some nice set-ups (granted they are primarily jump scares), but there is some fun to be had here. The film borrows a lot of imagery from Blair Witch and the tone of Paranormal Activity. As said, I do think the idea behind this film is good, but it isn’t executed perfectly.
For a one-man show, there is a lot to appreciate. Zack is likable (though perhaps not as magnetic), and he does reason through a lot of the situations he is faced with. I did want to hear more about why he didn’t just bail from the area, but it seems his personal journey was more important than his safety.
The film does suffer from some repetition. The ghostly voices each night become a little too predictable. Further, the specter that haunts the forest might have been better unseen. For the most part it seems to come in and yell at him before retreating back into the woods.
As you watch the film you will recognize the movie that could have been. A cool idea and a great setting (I do find nature often underused in horror) help propel this one above a lot of the no-budget horror films, but it still isn’t a great film. Perhaps the greatest flaw is the running time (already a slim 78 minutes), and trimming this would alleviate the issue of repetition a bit.
It is certainly better than a lot of the pop-horror we get in the mainstream, but I am not certain I would recommend this one. More lore and more grounding could turn this one into a punchy little gem.