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Spirit Camp (2009)

Director: Kerry Beyer
Starring: Roxy Vandiver, Julin, Katy Rowe. Amy Morris, John Paul Burkhart, Amy Morris, Brandon Smith
Not rated 96 min.
Buy Spirit Camp (Unrated Special Edition) at Amazon

A good girl with a bad reputation named Nikki (Roxy Vandiver) is court ordered to attend a cheerleading camp in order to avoid reform school. She’s to serve out her sentence at Camp Lumis Lake, where a homicidal maniac slaughtered a gaggle of campers a few years earlier. There she has to contend with a snooty posse of “popular” girls, a maniacal counselor and her flamboyantly gay assistant, and a town full of suspicious weirdos. All of those problems take a backseat when it seems that somebody has decided to resume the killings thought to have ended long ago.

 IMDB categorizes SPIRIT CAMP as a “horror” film. Despite a healthy body count and the presence of a masked psycho killer, it’s actually a quirky comedy that pays loving tribute to the slashers of yesteryear, most notably FRIDAY THE 13th and HALLOWEEN. While I generally detest horror-comedies, this movie turned out to be a lot of fun. The cast here has so much personality and enthusiasm that they give off a charming and goofy vibe that is contagious. There are many fun performances here, but it’s Roxy Vandiver as Nikki and Julin as her bitchy nemesis, Rachel, that really stand out. It’s been five years since this movie was released, and I can’t understand why these ladies aren’t household names by now. The slasher scenes (featuring a masked killer obviously inspired by Michael Myers) aren’t scary, but they are done well enough to make you wonder what they could have pulled off if they had played this movie straight.

Kerry Beyers’s name appears about twenty times in the credits. He wrote it, directed it, filmed it, edited it, stars in it, did special effects, and just about every other job imaginable on a film set. He obviously put in a tremendous amount of work here, and his passion is reflected in the final product. SPIRIT CAMP is a fun little no budget picture that proves the talented people can create something entertaining without millions of dollars and a big name cast. Those looking for a pure slasher will be sorely disappointed, but this movie is so well played and good natured that it’s impossible to hate.