The waters had no sooner receded from the Upper Ninth Ward than a neighborhood eccentric called Ms. Pearl grabbed a can of white spray and marked the words “Kamp Katrina” on her driveway. Together with her husband, Ms. Pearl had transformed her ramshackle backyard into a tent-dwelling community of the depressed and dispossessed. Soon, there were 14 residents—and, this being New Orleans, krazy-ass drama. Kamp Katrina begins as a tale of resourcefulness, generosity, and compassion, then quickly clouds over. Setting up camp alongside the white, working-class refugees in Ms. Pearl’s backyard, filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin record the breakdown of optimism and solidarity into frustration, violence, and substance abuse—Kamp Krackhead. Stirring and lurid in equal measure, the film is compelling in its details but queasily detached: verité verging on exploitation.