Found-footage horror flick Happy Camp demands you not think about it too much.
For example, everyone in it remembers little Dean Tanner, the six-year-old who mysteriously disappeared from his yard in the mountain town of Happy Camp, California, 20 years ago. People recall details of the search and the discovery of shreds of the boy’s clothes. The question is, why?
A title card explains that the area has suffered 627 disappearances in the last 25 years. But if two people are vanishing every month, what makes this one little boy so special, and not the roughly 500 others who’ve gone missing since then?
Happy Camp ignores that question, instead half-focusing its shaky-cam on ominous warnings from locals, spooky bumps in the night, and screaming matches among four characters who are barely discernable from one another. Dean’s adopted brother, Michael (co-writer Michael Barbuto), has come to town with his girlfriend and buddies in tow to make a documentary about his return to the scene of the abduction.
As is customary in such Blair Witch knock-offs, tempers flare. Eventually, all of the mundane squabbling is topped by a ridiculous climax full of jumbled, indecipherable action and bargain-basement CGI. Early in the film, a local warns, “You’re opening up a Pandora’s box of hellacious shit you don’t want to see.” Best take his advice.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 2, 2014