Cheerleader Camp: 2 The Death (2014) **
D: Dustin Ferguson
C: Jennifer Banko, Jazmyne Van Houten, Julia Farrell, Ari Lehman, Karrie Bauman, Breana Mitchell, Jared Banko, Danielle Brookshire, Britany Dailey, Dailen Cowden, Eric Moyer, Rich Kern
Plot Synopsis: After a team of cheerleaders are burned to death in a gruesome sprinkler accident, Tanya returns to cheerleader camp. Joining her are an all new squad of gorgeous mean girls from competing schools. The team struggle to get along, but soon their life depends on it! When someone in a panda costume begins killing one girl every hour, it's up to Tanya to piece together the clues before time runs out.
Review: Back in the late 90's and early 2000's, there were rumors of a sequel to Cheerleader Camp that supposedly starred Uma Thurman. The rumored sequel revolved around a camp, for cheerleaders, in which a murder occurred every hour. Fueling this was a review that appeared in a horror movie video guide book.
For years, genre enthusiasts tried to get to the bottom of it all before discovering that indeed a sequel was produced. However, it didn't star Uma Thurman and it didn't revolve around cheerleaders getting offed every hour. Instead, the sequel starred Betsy Russell (the lead in the original Cheerleader Camp) and was entitled Camp Fear. Co-starring was Russell's now ex-husband, Vincent Van Patten, and it featured not only cheerleaders, but Druids & the apocalypse!
Fans spent years investigating this rumor, in part, because it might feature a young Uma Thurman, but also because the premise sounded like something that would make for an entertainingly goofy movie. Now, all these years later, someone has token that premise and made it a reality. Like the urban legend, that inspired this, it's centered around cheerleaders, at a camp, who are offed every hour unless they can piece together the clues to figure out who's responsible.
Adding to the kitsch factor is that they incorporate elements from other slashers, most notably the kitschiest of all 80's slashers: Girls Nite Out. The killer, here, dons a bear costume just like in Girls Nite Out. Naturally, the killer offers an illogical motive for their murder spree, but would you expect the killer to offer a logical motive when they're killing people in a bear costume? That's part of the film's brand of humor as they send up the genre with an endless amount of in-jokes, dialogue, references & visual ques to 80's cinema. It even features a cameo from Ari Lehamn who starred as the younger version of Jason Voorhees in the original Friday the 13th.
Watching this, you can feel the affection that this production has for all things slasher-centric. However, simply showing affection for the genre isn't enough. A filmmaker has to take their affection for the genre and execute an entertaining movie. That's where they fall short. To say it's low budget & cheesy fails to address why it doesn't work. There's been plenty of horror movies that were both low budget & cheesy, but entertaining as well. Sorority House Massacre 2 is a perfect representation. Where Cheerleader Camp: 2 The Death falls short is in its staging & presentation.
A prime example is the first five or so minutes. In it, we're introduced to cheerleaders, who, after performing a routine have their skin melt to pieces after having acid sprayed onto their bodies. It's a fun, over the top hook for an opening sequence. However, nothing quite works. The cheerleading routine falls flat. The special effects, which show the characters disintegrating, aren't exaggerated enough. The performances don't capture the campiness of the whole scenario. The editing fails to bring momentum to the proceedings. The score doesn't heighten the absurd nature of what's happening. The camera compositions lack the razzle dazzle that was needed. Cheerleader Camp: 2 The Death has good ideas, but misses the mark in delivering upon those ideas.
This doesn't extend to only the first five minutes, but to the rest of the movie. There's a lot of crazy shenanigans that could've made for something delightfully ludicrous. Yet, they don't have the zest that they should. The production values fail to exploit the humor to its full potential.
Watching Cheerleader Camp: 2 The Death is like listening to someone set up a joke, but they aren't quite sure how to sell the punchline. [Not Rated] 70 minutes.
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