Camp Pocumtuck has a lot of rules. Electronic devices will not be tolerated. Inter-camper liaisons will not be tolerated. Gum-chewing, gambling, drugs, alcohol and public nudity are also no-goes. Not exactly the perfect place for an idyllic, rustic, deeply affordable wedding for friends looking to get out of the city. No mind that Pocumtuck has been closed for years and seems a little more dilapidated than expected. No mind to the mysterious tragedy that led to the shutdown or the strange noises outside the cabin when the sun goes down.
Camp Wedding is a clever take on the “camp slasher” genre, blending humor, horror and a keen commentary on our contemporary inability to disconnect from our phones and engage with those around us.
Mia (Kelley Gates), her finance, Dalvero (David Pegram), and their bridal party / friend group arrive at Pocumtuck the day before their wedding to set up the venue. It’s a group dynamic that, like all wedding parties, brings together disparate friend circles for a singular occasion. Naturally there’s some strife even before people start disappearing one-by-one. Flynn (Cadden Jones) is worried about her son back home and her own gluten allergy. She’s not fond of Eileen (Wendy Jung), an overbearing old friend of Mia’s who sees the weekend as a way to rekindle what they once had whether Mia wants it or not. Gore (Sean Hankinson) is the best man but has his eyes elsewhere, looking for the man of his dreams on dating apps rather than necessarily focusing on the task at hand. In fitting with the genre, the cast is expansive and well-played all around.
Each of them shares the phone problem, an addiction complicated by the poor reception at Camp Pocumtuck. Messages from both inside and outside the camp pop in at awkward times as cellular service ebbs in and out, leading to misunderstandings among the group. It’s an unnervingly accurate portrayal of contemporary social interaction, maybe awkwardly so. Classic camp slashers split up the group of potential victims into different cabins or romantic dalliances to increase the tension and opportunities for murder. Camp Wedding points out that modern technology wouldn’t improve the situation much and, in fact, might make it worse. If your fiancé is upset and sends you a text that reads “fine,” well, how are you supposed to take that? What if you take it the wrong way? How does that affect your behavior?
Sometimes putting the phone down and just communicating is the best way to solve a problem … which is easier said than done.
There’s a supernatural element to Camp Wedding (as is custom), and it manages to tie together the genre thrills and social commentary in a nice, coherent package. To be clear: Camp Wedding isn’t a gore-fest, although it makes allusion to such things. It’s a comedy about middle-aged yuppies heading out to the woods and finding themselves in some pretty crazy situations that mirror those of a classic ’80s slasher film.
It’s also comedy-horror in a way the genre rarely deploys — all the tension and catharsis of violence without actually subjecting its audience to ghastly sights and sounds. It has a positive ending with a nice message to boot. It’s a nice alternative to those who lack the stomach for graphic horror but who still dig the suspense and humor or those who appreciate horror that rejiggers old tropes for a modern age. The cast is inclusive and dedicated, the writing smart and sharp. This is the good stuff.