The found footage genre has long been a beloved niche among horror fans, staff here included. The format, while restrictive in budget, offers a creative outlet normally representative of a tight-knit crew with a clear vision. Granted, sometimes this can also cause the filmmakers to trip over their own inadequacies given full creative control but lacking experience – it is a genre that can vary in entertainment value, but nevertheless one which the avid fan base will consume.
Unsurprisingly, the genre is also no stranger to fans within the community transitioning into filmmakers themselves, often conveying the love of found footage with an endearing sincerity. As such, I was excited to check out Camping Fun, a short film from found footage aficionados Thomas Burke and David Eimer (Burke acting as the managing editor of the Found Footage Critic website) and see how the emerging talent with the know-how tackle their own project.
What is it About?
“Camping Fun follows the 2014 cold case of four missing friends from a small town in rural Texas. After six years of silence in the investigation, detectives have now recovered what is considered key evidence from a partially damaged video camera found near an undisclosed location.
It’s now been reported that members of family are able to positively ID the group from the retained evidence. As new information comes to surface, serious questions are being asked of federal police to look further into the missing four and their last recorded footage. – Summary compiled from FBI File #9-HQ-4911“
Using distortion of images and time, Camping Fun provides a hauntingly unnerving experience reminiscent of the best titles in the format. In addition, the production embraces the ‘less is more’ aesthetic of the genre, drawing in viewers to try to make concrete conclusions from broken footage and quick cuts. If anything, Camping Fun acts as an exemplary showcase of how to use the format to evoke that unique sense of dread exclusive to the sub-genre – execution of sound design and visuals both heightening the scare factor in an exemplary fashion.
At a brief 14-minute run-time, the short conveys a fully realized concept, and the lore behind the unfolding chaos is tangible in approach. Undeniably, the concept can be expanded upon to greater effect, but there is not a sense of ‘losing out’ in the short film format.
Tying together the scares and narrative, the chemistry between the cast conveys familiarity – coming across as actual footage of a group of friends on a trip. Though the time with them is brief, no individual feels out of place or overtly obnoxious. Arguably, this is one aspect that many FF filmmakers struggle with as many productions become lost in poorly conceptualized and unrealistic cast.
What Did Not Work?
The short film format seldom allows time for character development, and Camping Fun is no exception. Specifically, the film teases the idea of possession, but as such little time is spent with the cast, observation of attitude shifts is shallow in practice. Understandably, the lack of establishing characters makes sense in the limited format, but it does beg the question as to whether Burke and Eimer will be able to provide an engaging narrative to support their mastery of the horror elements from the found footage subgenre.
Where Can I Watch it?
You can watch the short film in its entirety below. You can also head to the official site for more infomation on the production.
Camping Fun plays like the showcase working toward a larger project. Taking that into context, the poor character development is understandable – the film is best served as a showcase for execution of horror elements. Simple yet effective, the short conjures nightmarish visions though distorted imagery and unsettling audio. Furthermore, Burke and Eimer convey an understanding of the importance of subtlety in building atmosphere – the image of a girl playing in a field acting as the perfectly unsettling precursor for the imminent carnage.
Overall, Camping Fun is a beautifully realized short film steeped in a love of the FF genre, which is hampered only by the unknown in whether the team involved can also craft an engaging narrative. Regardless, at 14 minutes (and free to watch), there is no reason not to indulge in some Camping Fun.
Greetings, My name is Adam and I am from Canada.
My love for all things bizarre came at a young age, as boredom in a small town lead me down a rabbit hole of obscure film, music, tv and literature. I have carried these fascinations with and turned it into a passion for writing, sharing and discussing the various arts.
My area of expertise, if there was one, would be geared towards Asian horror with a particular interest in film and manga. However, if it is odd, disturbing or trashy I probably heard of it or can at least pretend I have in conversation.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work, I always look to grow both as a writer and fan. I truly appreciate anyone willing to come along for the journey and share their passions in turn.