In the Christian horror flick Camp Hell, Camp Hope is a place where Christian children come together to share and study their faith. Deep in the woods and far from distraction, they learn how to better serve their maker and the perils of tangling with the Devil. Unfortunately their charismatic leader unknowingly leads them into a world of evil, and the nightmare begins, as each child’s body soon becomes possessed by something evil. Sounds like an exciting film. And for the most part it was almost there.
Camp Hell, previously called Camp Hope (after the story’s study and faith camp), is a new horror movie based on true events starring Dana Delany, Bruce Davison, Andrew McCarthy, Jesse Eisenberg and Spencer Treat Clark. It’s a coming of age film that explores teen struggles as hormonal desires clash with the tenants of Christianity. The rather strong is cast lead by Davison of X Men fame who takes on the senior role as father Phineas McAllister, with the majority of the actors appearing in roles on television shows such as Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives and Law and Order and in movies like Unbreakable, Shutter Island and Zombieland.
It’s an odd movie that tries to offer horror and Christian beliefs in the same film. Although it’s unclear which religion is targeted in the film, there are similarities to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics and some other Christian sects with strong penalties for breaking any of the several rules that are presented on day one of camp. The most important of rules, however, is the vow of chastity, which can be quite hard for teens and is explored in one relationship in the movie.
Rather than explore the ideas that could come from breaking the rules of camp, and ultimately God, the film takes a different turn and focuses on an unusual supernatural occurrence that pretty much signals the end of Father McAllister. What could have become the exciting start of a new genre of films known as Christian horror, Camp Hell falls at the climax, right when we needed it the most.