Camp (Review)


Directed by Abdel-Aziz Hashad
Written by Hytham Wahid

Egypt has a rich cinematic history that crumbled away in the early 1970s due to the nationalization of the film industry (which began in the mid-60s) and the cinema entered a period of decay that produced few quality films. There has been a small resurgence in the past few years as a number of indie directors spring up, revitalizing some of the magic of the Golden Age. As Camp is the product of a first time director who is considered part of the new wave of filmmaking, we’re going to skip the history lessons and jump into this modern Egyptian film.

Camp is a slasher film, and it is true to its slasher film roots in that a whole group of young people are ruthlessly slaughtered by a masked killer. It follows a lot of US slasher film tropes, from the killer popping up from all over the place to the killer killing people without being noticed. And we can’t have a horror movie if women don’t fall down while running from a killer. Camp is so similar to the American films it imitates, it actually detracts from the film, making it less of an Egyptian film and more of a slasher film similar to what you would find in any direct to DVD horror section. The kills are not particularly innovative and the film seems to exist just to show that Egypt can make films just as good as the US. This is director Abdel-Aziz Hashad’s first film, but he has gone on to make several more.

It is obvious that writer Hytham Wahid is a big horror buff. In interviews (sadly, the interview link disappeared after the 2011 Egyptian revolution) Wahid refutes claims that this is the first Egyptian horror film, mentioning other titles such as Yassin Ismail Yassin and Mohamed Shebl’s 1983 film Anyab (Fangs) starring singers Ahmed Adaweya and Aly El-Haggar as bloodsucking vampires, and 2006’s Ouija. Wahid talks a lot about the suspense of Camp, he seems to be less about the kills and more about the buildup. At TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles, but they might have helped in picking up some of the suspense. I did have a good time trying to guess who the killer was, and I picked wrong.

Preppy Guy (Ayman Refai) – The main male character, as he spends the most time on camera. Most of his time on camera is in either a sweater or a racing uniform. Who wears a racing uniform on vacation? Ayman Refai (or Ayman El Refaey) is a singer in Egypt.
Frosted Hair (Hani Salama) – Frosted Hair is a ladies man. To import that fact on us, various female characters give him gazes throughout the film, of love, hate, or disgust. Hani Salama (sometimes Hani San’e Allah) also starred in the Egyptian movie Ouija.
Yamin (Mohamed El-Khola’y) – Yamin is so cool, he’s ice cold. Yamin is also mourning a dead girlfriend named Sheki, who died shortly after the flashback in the beginning and she comes to speak to him as a ghost later. Mohamed El-Khola’y also starred in the Egyptian movie Ouija.
Kevin (???) – Kevin is the nerdy guy who wears a kung fu shirt at some point, and carries around a gorilla mask. Because, who doesn’t? I couldn’t figure out who played him, but suspect the actor’s name is Mohammed Atef.
Nancy (Yasmine Gamal) – Preppy Guy’s girlfriend, and that’s about all the characterization she gets until she cheats on him and then is quickly killed by The Killer.
Selene (Amira Hani) – Selene spends most of her time being disapproving of the others, watching over her younger sister that she brought along for some reason, and acting all emo. Amira Hani acted in the TV series El Amma Nour, but of course you were aware of that fact.
Yasmin (Reem Helal) – At time it sounds like they’re calling her Yassanem, but as that isn’t a real name we went with Yasmin. Reem Helal was first runner-up at the Miss Egypt 2006, this is Reem Helal’s first film role.
The Killer (It is a mystery) – He’s a killer who kills people. Which one of the characters is this guy? Watch the film and find out! Or PayPal me $10 and I’ll tell you.

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