Directed by Bowie Lau [Other horror films: Sha ren du jia wu (2000), Xue tai huan gu (2004)]
This Hong Kong film has been on my radar for a long time now. Ever since I heard “late 1990’s Asian slasher,” I jumped. In the years following, I’ve been keeping a lookout for it, should I happen to have the chance to see it. Now that I have, I’m a bit disappointed, but not necessarily surprised.
Unlike what you might think, this has far more in common with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than it does Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and other slashers that kick started the genre back up in the late 1990’s. In this film, a group of people get hunted down by a guy with a chainsaw on a supposedly deserted island. With a plot like that, what can go wrong?
The biggest problem, I think, is the fact that there’s too much group dynamic drama and not enough killing. When it got to the kills themselves, there were pretty decent. Nothing too gory, but some solid knifings, chainsaw action, and a fun bamboo trap. But a lot of that doesn’t happen until forty or so minutes in. The characters aren’t entirely uninteresting, but they’re not why I wanted to see this film.
What also hurts is the music choice the film goes with. A lot of the background music sounds like stuff you’d hear in a 90’s romantic movie. It just seemed entirely an odd choice for a slasher coming out just a few months before 2000. If it was once or twice, that could be forgiven, but it’s not.
The Deadly Camp, as this film is known in the USA, is okay. But if it weren’t for the fact that it’s from Hong Kong, I don’t think I’d have been nearly as interested in seeing this as I have been. The design of the antagonist was acceptable, and the kill scenes were mostly good, but nothing else really worked (including many of the actors, most of whom just seemed there). Not something I’d go out of my way to see again or even recommend.