Studio: Gas Money Pictures
Director: J. Horton
Writer: J. Horton
Producer: Joe Bartone, James L. Bills, Kacper Skowron, Sean Reid
Stars: Rachel Amanda Bryant, Brit Sheridan, Scott Menville, Robert Chambers Pullman
A troubled young woman must relive her death until she discovers the curse’s connection to her dead father’s deal with the Devil.
It’s been over a year since I swore I would stop reviewing micro-indie DTV horror that anyone with eyeballs can tell is rubbish without pressing Play. Part of the intention was to stop dumping on aspiring filmmakers whose disillusioned dreams prevent them from seeing they pinched out pap. As for producers who knowingly peddle homegrown horsesh*t, I couldn’t care less about exploding harsh truth bombs. I just prefer to not give any attention at all to clear-cut wastes of everyone’s time.
But every now and again, the former Full Moon fan in me can’t help but indulge in an occasional slice of dumbly derivative drivel. And because I now instinctively avoid anything bearing The Asylum’s banner, it had been a bit since I partook in a straight-up, old-fashioned mockbuster.
This was my mindset going into “The Campus,” which shot under the title “5 Sins” but was also rereleased as “Death Day.” Presumably some lawyer somewhere assured the distributor that they couldn’t be sued for the name and thus they went all in on ripping off “Happy Death Day” (review here).
In the event Blumhouse’s legal team needs additional evidence, here is the plot synopsis straight from the VOD listing, complete with a nonsensical semicolon because they can’t even get that right: “In this genre-bending thriller, Morgan finds herself trapped in a never-ending cycle of terror; as she’s brutally murdered then resurrected over and over – each time losing another piece of her soul. Now she must discover why this is happening and break the deadly cycle.”
Losing your soul one piece at a time would be preferable to having it completely sucked out in one sitting, which is what happens when you watch “The Campus” or “Death Day” or whatever.
If you came here looking for guidance on whether or not to rent, the advice, in no uncertain terms, is to stay as far away from this film as possible. It’s not “popcorn” fun. It’s not “so bad, it’s good” fun. “The Campus” is no fun at all.
If you came here looking to commiserate over how awful “The Campus” is, I’m afraid I don’t have any interest in formally discussing the movie. I’ll fill up the word count by addressing some of the IMDb claptrap instead.
Under ‘Trivia,’ we learn that “at least two film posters, shown in one of the settings, are from director Jason Horton’s previous works.” The true tidbit here is the revelation that the director has done other movies. Given how awkwardly “The Campus” plays out, you wouldn’t necessarily know that anyone involved had even seen a movie before, much less made one.
The only dialogue excerpt under ‘Quotes’ is this: Morgan – [Resurrecting for the third time] “F*ck me.” That’s all you need to know about the writing quality.
The script “endears” us to the main character by having a random guy drop her off, her sister slap her in the face, and another random guy hook up with her after her father’s funeral. Nothing says “heroine” like one-night stands amid family dysfunction.
ANC Entertainment is one of the production companies. This is necessary to note because you’ll see their logo a lot. The titular campus is, as near as I can tell, supposed to be Morgan’s father’s place of business or teaching or something. But it’s just the ANC production office repeatedly redressed to be an apartment, funeral home, and storage facility that curiously houses film equipment because the crew didn’t bother to keep C-stands out of frame or cover up the company sign.
“The Campus” shot on an Arri Alexa with a vintage anamorphic lens. It’s hysterical that the production went through the trouble of framing for the cinematic style of a 2.40:1 aspect ratio like it’s a James Cameron epic. Too bad the technique is used to capture exterior imagery so blown out, you may involuntarily cover your eyes for fear of blindness.
According to IMDb, the budget is estimated at $50,000. That seems like two too many zeroes. Rock walls appear to be made out of crumpled butcher’s paper. When it’s not aping John Carpenter synth riffs, the music sounds like someone improvising on the fly with a keyboard. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the entire film was shot in only one night.
“The Campus” isn’t the most amateurish movie I’ve seen available on Amazon, but it’s close. The practical FX and demon creature exhibit some effort at least. Outside of that, the only compliment I can offer is to say that “The Campus/Death Day” reaffirmed the reason why I should steer clear of Z-grade horror. Forget reliving your death repeatedly. Life is too short to experience something like “The Campus” ever again.
Review Score: 15