#266 -- Camp Hell (2010)
Director: George VanBuskirk
This movie is a wonderful example of false advertising. The poster that I saw on my On Demand feature was quite different from the one you see, and that one was a bit more menacing, if you ask me. But the ones you'll see online all have Jesse Eisenberg's face plastered on them, and of course his name is the only text on the poster except the dreaded Inspired by true events. In most cases, I shrug it off because those events that are supposed to be true are completely unbelievable. In this case, though, I believe it, because there's absolutely nothing supernatural going on here, though the synopsis you'll read will tell you there is.
So, there's a boy named Tommy who lives within a community (which I assume is a covenant, because they feel the need to give us a definition of the word right at the beginning of the movie) that is extremely religious. And I mean extremely. The only people within the community who aren't are a bunch of "thugs" who dress like headbangers and shout things like, "God's a loser!" Tommy is sent to a Christian summer camp that is apparently meant to bring the kids closer to the lord. But these people are so adamant about what they believe that the kids aren't aloud to do anything. They can't wear shorts, they can't listen to music or read comics; they can't even speak to girls without those girls being called whores. Yes, grown ass people called a teenage girl a whore for simply talking to Tommy. Tommy does eventually meet the girl out in the woods for a dry-humping session, but that hardly makes her a whore. It just makes her a teenager. He told the priest that all he did was kiss her. He told his father the same thing, and they were both so disgusted and appalled by his actions that you'd think he killed someone. I hate to imagine what they'd do to him if they knew the truth, or if he'd actually had sex with her. They probably would have stoned him or something.
Meanwhile, Tommy has nightmares about being in a hole with some demon breathing, "I hate you!" standing over him. This is the only even remotely supernatural thing that occurs in the movie. But that only signifies Tommy's mental breakdown due to the pressure he's put under by the community. None of the other kids have any issues like this. Some of them are just as devout as their leaders; some aren't, but they're open about it and suffer no hallucinations or demons chasing them through the woods. It's just Tommy, because he's overwhelmed by the confusion and the conflicting feelings of his faith and his emerging sexuality. I think the demon might have represented his temptations, but I'm not sure if the writers could have thought of something so intelligent.
So, all these kids are allowed to do is pray and play Frisbee, apparently. After Tommy commits his terrible sin, he's cast out by the priest, who tells him he will no longer be a part of the camp, but he must stand back and become the priest's personal slave. Now all he can do is wash dishes and do other chores. The girl leaves the camp, though it's unclear whether she was kicked out or left of her own will (she mentioned that her parents were thinking about leaving the community). Another boy is kicked out of the camp after he snuck into an amusement park (according to their head counselor, amusement parks are also a mortal sin). So, you see, these peoples' idea of sin is completely ridiculous. You can be treated like a leper or a murderer for the simplest of things, and it actually pissed me off a little bit. I know there are people like this in the world, who think their way is the only way and that if you do anything different, then you're the spawn of Satan (the priest actually does call Tommy this, because he masturbates. I guess every teenage boy is Satan's child).
In the end, Tommy does exactly what Jesse Eisenberg's character did. He renounced his faith. In the beginning, the priest told Jesse's character that nothing in the world happens without God's permission. I'm sure he thought the same thing I did: why would God give people permission to rape and murder and torture? He didn't want to believe in a God like that, and neither did Tommy. He would rather have no faith, no beliefs, than giving in to a God that was so cruel. He thought that the community and its actions were far too terrible and he simply refused to be a part of it any longer.
I'm really not sure what the point of this movie was. Was it anti-religion? Was it trying to show us that sexuality is wrong, and that if you have impure thoughts they will eventually become plagued with demons? It seems to me like something they'd show at a Christian camp to scare the sin out of the kids. So, maybe that's what it's meant for. It's definitely not going to scare anyone else. The only thing scary about it is how annoying all the characters are.
Recommended for: people who wish to show their children just what masturbation can do to their brains.