“Friday the 13th” Meets Cheerleaders: “Spirit Camp” Review

I don’t think there is anything that I enjoy more in the world than a good “Friday the 13th” ripoff. Well, possibly a bad “Friday the 13th” ripoff but that’s a discussion for a different review. Anyway, there is just something about the “Friday the 13th” series that makes it so ripe for parody. The sex equals death equation mixed with creative death scenes and some over-the-top acting usually makes for a good time and it’s a recipe that just about any (and just about all) slasher films follow. With that being said, I sat down to watch “Spirit Camp” will little expectations. If a movie tries to be a parody of a slasher film, it usually falls flat. Why is that? Well, the answer is quite simple. Outside of the 1980’s, I don’t think any adult horror viewer would find anything scary or frightening in a film like “Friday the 13th”, it’s already close to self parody as it is. Going any further into parody would simply be overkill. With this bias out of the way, can “Spirit Camp” deliver the goods in what is possibly the hardest horror subgenre around? Or does it leaving you wanting more laughs and more scares? Let’s dig in.

“Spirit Camp” begins with a flashback. When a slutty cheerleader is turned down by her obviously gay boyfriend for sex, she returns to camp to find that all of her fellow cheerleading friends have been murdered. One ax to the neck later and we are now in present time, two years later. We find that a street smart “goth girl” (Roxy Vandiver) is forced to attend cheerleader camp as part of her rehabilitation from a juvenile correction facility. She clashes with the “popular girls,” and finds herself embroiled in a bitter rivalry with the bitchy ringleader Rachel (Julin). No, I’m not missing a last name there, her screen credit is simply “Julin.” Maybe she wants to be the next Cher or Madonna but based on her acting here…oh wait, we are talking about Cher and Madonna…yeah, that seems about right. Anyway, when members of the spirit squad start turning up dead, the girls must put aside their differences and struggle to survive the murderous rage of a crazed psycho-killer lurking among them!

Sound scary? Well, it’s not. Sound funny? That it is. Billed as a “Friday the 13th” meets “Bring it On”, the film works because it takes its deaths seriously but places its tongue firming in cheek with everything else. With clever references to other horror movies like “Halloween” (the camp director’s name is Miss Haddonfield) and a sly winking to the camera with some outrageous but not too over-the-top death scenes, “Spirit Camp” surprisingly works. Want to see a bitchy cheer captain get an ax to the face while pleasuring herself with a giant pink vibrator? This is the movie for you. Nothing here is very subtle but for a low budget horror comedy, the deaths are surprisingly well executed and the make up effects on the killer (no, I’m not going to give away who it is besides saying that it is pretty obvious) are top notch. If you are a fan of 80’s slashers, you could do a lot worse than this one and you might even get a few quality laughs. For a direct to dvd horror film, that’s about the best you can ask for.

To order from Amazon: Spirit Camp (Special Edition DVD)