30th Jul2020

‘Killer Camp 1×01: A Killer in the Camp’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Let’s start with the premises of the Killer Camp. Don’t get killed and figure out the identity of the murderer. That’s it. Now, this being a reality show, there isn’t any real murders, that we know of, but the premise is a reality show shaped liked a horror film. The contestants, which we will get to in a second, are stuck at a summer camp with serial killer, Bruce, who is controlled by one of the contestants, “murdering” a person each episode. The remaining contestants must work together, while not trusting anyone, to figure out the identity of the true killer/saboteur of the camp.

Here’s the description from the series itself:

In typical reality show fashion, there will be camaraderie, sex appeal, and lots of backstabbing… only this time, literally. As the campers play games to earn cash during the day, each night one of them will meet their untimely demise in ever more extreme, hilarious and inventive ways. Nobody can be trusted, as one of the campers among them is actually the secret murderer controlling the evil camp handyman ‘Bruce,’ who executes the bloody hilarious death scenes.

The Cast

Each contestant plays a stereotypical character, and dressed accordingly, from a horror film. Like all reality shows, whether they actually are like this in real life is never really confirmed. On a side note, every week we will remove a camper when they are murdered the week before.

  • Sam Avery, The Rebel
    Age: 27
    Occupation: Chef
  • Rosie Ford, The Jock
    Age: 22
    Occupation: Healthcare Assistant
  • Sian Headon, The Cheerleader
    Age: 25
    Occupation: Beauty Therapist
  • Rob Jones, The Film Nerd
    Age: 28
    Occupation: Work in a cinema
  • Holly Laverack, The Outsider
    Age: 19
    Occupation: Barista
  • Nurry Lee, The Music Geek
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Pianist
  • Eleanor Overton, The Diva
    Age: 22
    Occupation: Content Executive
  • Feargal Parham, The Class Clown
    Age: 26
    Occupation: Nanny
  • Warren Spencer, The Quarterback
    Age: 26
    Occupation: Eyewear designer
  • Jacques Tunnicliffe, The Joker
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Wine Tasting Host
  • Carl Woods, the Prom King
    Age: 30
    Occupation: Car Dealer

What Happened This Week

The pilot starts with contestants getting to know each other while travelling together on a bus to the camp. The group, all British contestants, think they are filming a reality series at an American summer camp, Camp Pleasant, where they will play games, win some money, and cause drama, as in all reality shows. The series takes a dark twist when the contestants team up in pairs, except for Feargal the Class Clown, on a paddleboat to cross the lake and meet the host, Bobby Mair. While the pairs make it across with little difficulty, Feargal has difficulty crossing the lake and to the shock of the new reality stars, his boat explodes, “killing” him.

It’s at this point that Mair tells everyone that the reality show they are starring in is actually a murder mystery and Feargal was killed by the evil handyman Bruce, who is secretly controlled by one of the remaining contestants. It’s up to the campers to play games and win clues to identify the murderer amongst them. If they survive the series and can identify the murderer, they win a share of $15,000, which can increase based on winning games. If no one can guess the murderer at the end of the series, the killer gets the money.

Something that stands out in the series is the producers going out of their way to present the show as an “American” reality show, but not matter how many times they show the American flag, we all know this is a British reality series. That’s not a negative and no one in America cares where the shows are made as long as they are enjoyable, but I find it hilarious that that producers are trying to market this in America as an “American” show when all the campers are British, the only American in the series is the host, and the series was filmed in Lithuania!
Now then, let’s get to the first game this week!

Watermelon Race

The campers are paired off and tied together at the waist with the objective to walk up a slippery slide and deposit watermelon juice into a large container. If they fill it to the top, they get an extra $3,000 added to their potential winnings but the saboteur will try to throw the game (without being too obvious) and add the winnings to their stash. The game was sloppy fun and watching the campers slip and trip in watermelon juice was a good way to introduce the strengths and weaknesses of each character. The campers end up with an extra $1,150 while the killer made $1,850 to put in their stash. Mair stirs the pot by asking if the failure was a result of lack of athleticism or was it due to the killer sabotaging the game and falling down on purpose.
After each game, the campers get a chance to relax in their cabins and gossip about each other as well as try to solve the mystery of the murderer. This week, the majority agree that Eleanor, who barely reacted to Feargal’s death and her failure in the watermelon game, is the front-runner as the killer. The campers have no evidence of this yet, but when has facts ever led to a good suspect?

Shock Horror

The second game divides the campers into two teams and the team that can build the tallest log tower without it falling over when time runs out, wins five clues to the identity of the killer. Each team has one person that can deliver electric shocks to the opposing team. If the person delivers a shock at the right time, the opposing team could accidently bump into their tower, causing it to crash to the ground. Team Warren consists of Warren, Eleanor, Sam, Rob, and Carl and Team Rosie consists of Rosie, Sian, Jacques, Holly and Nurry.

The electric shocks didn’t really hamper the teams too much in their building of the towers, but it was fun to see the enjoyment that Jacque and Rob had pulling the levers and causing the shocks their opponents. I did think it was interesting that Jacque’s team didn’t think he was pulling the lever at the right time or enough, which moves him to the top of the suspect board for me. Team Warren won this challenge when Team Rosie’s tower, which was taller, couldn’t stand on it’s own when time ran out and fell over.

Back in the counselor’s office, which is nothing more than a leather chair in front of desk, each member of the winning team gets one clue about the identity of the killer and it’s up to the camper if they would like to share the clue with the other contestants. This is also the room where each camper is able to film a confessional and give thoughts on their other campers.

The clues are: The killer used to collect stamps, their favorite subject at school was art, the guilty pleasure of the killer is Avril Lavigne, favorite food is Thai food and the killer’s favorite celebrity is Danny DeVito.

Back at the cabins, Team Warren quickly tell each other the clues they received and deduce that two of the clues describes camper Sam. He dismisses the clues as coincidences as everyone loves Thai food (do they really?) and everyone agrees that Sam can’t be the killer because he’s…too nice? Yet they want to convict Eleanor because she didn’t react to a bad special effect explosion? I’m not following that logic. They don’t have much time to gossip though as it’s onto the third challenge!

Joust

The final challenge this week is for immunity and takes place on the lake. Each camper is outfitted in a funny animal inflatable and must knock each other off the platforms and into the water, but they cannot punch or kick the other campers. About a quarter of the competitors, including Eleanor and Jacque, eliminate themselves, as they fail into the water when they attempt the simple task of jumping from platform to platform to get to a competitor. The final two campers are Sam, in his duck inflatable, against Warren and his turtle inflatable. Warren uses his brains over Sam’s brawn and upsets Sam in the first immunity challenge.

Mair is feeling extra nice this week and allows Warren to pick another camper to share the immunity with and he chooses Carl. All episode Warren and Carl appear chummy and with Warren giving him immunity this week, there definitely is a bromance growing between the two.

Each episode will end at the campfire, ala Survivor, with each camper talking about their day and giving their thoughts on who they think the murderer might be. The accusations cause tension amongst the campers and eventually fear when Mair sends two campers, Nurry and Eleanor, off into the woods separately, with one meeting their fate at the hands of the overalls wearing and hooded Bruce!The selection of campers is never explained but some research confirms the secret killer picks a camper and the producers pick the other camper. I would have liked the contestants to vote on the selection of the campers as the process now doesn’t give the viewers much reason why the two chosen campers are picked.

The series then shifts from a reality series to a bad horror film as we get the cinematic death of Nurry as she takes a Segway scooter into razor-sharp barb wire and is beheaded. The cinematic filming of the scene takes away any fear the viewers might have as it looks cheesy and something a high school filmmaker might produce. I like the idea of the elimination with two people going off into the woods and only one returning but the execution of the idea is not filmed correctly. The episode ends with the campers’ top suspect, Eleanor, returning to the campfire, much to the chagrin of the remaining campers.

Each week I’ll list who I think is the main suspect and will keep each week’s selection to see if I have any deductive reasoning in me.

First Week Top Suspect:

  • Jacque – Between failing (badly!) at the watermelon challenge, messing up the electric shocks, and eliminating himself in the immunity challenge, Jacque rises to the top of my list as I think it’s all just an act to present himself as “weak”.

Grade: C+ (Above Average)

Killer Camp is a fun twist on the reality show genre and reminds me of the overlooked but amazing reality series, Murder in Small Town X. This series is less serious than Murder in Small Town X but provides enough mystery to pull viewers in. The series is only five episodes so a viewer’s time commitment is not much, and the premise should keep viewers coming back for more episodes. The only downside is the annoyance factor of the host as his jokes fall flat and his campfire story describing the death of one of the campers does not add anything to the series. Overall, I enjoyed the first episode and the lack of mystery reality series on television will keep me coming back to Killer Camp.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.

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