New Horror Releases: The Campus (2018) - Reviewed

Happy Death Day was released last year and used the Groundhog Day premise of reliving a day over and over again, with the loop restarting every time that the character dies. It proved to be a success at the box office and among many horror fans. The new indie horror film The Campus uses the same basic concept, but manages to flip it around and introduce multiple subgenres into the mix for a unique and original vision. Despite not having the budget or superior casting choices of Happy Death Day, The Campus is still a welcomed surprise that doles out copious amounts of blood, a generous helping of gore, and impressive practical effects. In fact, with its combination of body horror, ghosts, monsters, and zombies, it ends up delivering a far more entertaining horror film than its comparatively bigger budgeted counterpart. 

Morgan (Rachel Amanda Bryant) returns home for her dad’s funeral, who died after breaking a deal with the devil. She has been estranged from her father and sister and is only interested in robbing the family business. Instead, she gets caught in the family curse and ends up in a cycle of being murdered, resurrected, and killed again until the devil can take her soul. If you’re any bit concerned with this being a direct copycat of either Groundhog Day or Happy Death Day, don’t be. Writer and director Jason Horton has borrowed the basic essentials and crafted something unlike the others. The majority of the dialogue and story is told during flashback scenes with Morgan’s father. Besides those scenes, the focus is more on the visual and practical effects elements. The minimal amount of dialogue works well, but there are moments where the plot may be hard to follow for some of the audience. 

The prop design and set locations are excellent and play a major part in the story and each time that Morgan is resurrected. From taxidermy to a Marilyn Monroe mannequin, there are so many cools props contained in this movie. They had to have called in some major favors to get everything that they presented on screen. The combination of the props and the main building really upped the overall production value and look of the picture. The direction and cinematography are great from Horton and cinematographer Kacper Skowron. Each resurrection sequence has a different and distinct look, altering the lighting and colors to fit the particular subgenre. The lighting produces some nice shadows and lighter tones on Morgan and her surroundings. The score from Darryl Blood is a superb mixture of piano and synth piano that is reminiscent of the Phantasm score. 

It is a relatively small cast, with a majority of the screen time being solely committed to Rachel Amanda Bryant. Robert C. Pullman appears as Morgan’s father mainly in the flashback scenes and at the beginning to introduce the item that becomes the source of the plot, but it really is still a minor role. Bryant is the main focus for almost the entire duration of the movie. This can be a daunting task, but she rules the screen and takes everything that the director can throw at her. In the end, she proves to be the female equivalent of Bruce Campbell as Ash in the Evil Dead franchise. She’s takes on all comers and is covered in blood throughout the film. 

When it comes down to it, practical effects and the level of violence are often important factors in pleasing most horror fans. Rest assured, this contains an abundance of violence, blood, and gore. The amount of blood used is overly excessive and is absolutely beautiful. There is nothing quite better than seeing an actress completely covered in fake blood, oh what a sight. Add to that some crazy gross gore effects and you have yourself one entertaining evening. Major props should also go out to the effects team for the development of the wonderful creature costume for the devil.

The Campus may use the Groundhog Day premise, but it twists it around into a gloriously batshit crazy horror film that combines multiple subgenres into one wild ride. This is one definitely worth seeing.

The Campus will be available on Amazon Instant on February 1st, exclusively. Later, the film will be available on iTunes and VUDU, at the end of February. Then, The Campus will show on home entertainment formats (DVD, Blu-ray) in April.

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