WITHIN THE WOODS
Director: Brad Sykes
Year of release: 2005
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 85 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "Who said anything about escape"?.
Also known as: Camp Blood 3
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Several years on from the blood bath of the second film an entrepreneur looks to profit from the grisly fame of the Camp Blood/Blackwood area by turning it into a location for a reality show. His plan is to invite five contestants to stay at the camp site for twenty four hours with any remaining contestants splitting $1 million between them once the time limit expires. Cameras positioned in the trees will record the action. To spice things up and scare the hopefuls away someone has been hired to wear a clown mask in an effort thin the herd and make it more entertaining for the viewers. Unbeknownst to the man behind it all his personal assistant and the hired clown mask are quickly dispatched by a real killer, someone who looks to be following the pattern of the killers from the two previous Camp Blood massacres. The terrorised contestants begin to turn on each other as mistrust builds up while they do their best to stay alive.
Good points: Much like with the previous Camp Blood films I think the killer looks suitably intimidating in terms of the mask. Though still the visage of a clown the mask is different again here to what we have seen before which I like as it keeps a freshness to things without straying too far from the identity of the franchise. Different but the same.
We hear what I thought was interesting clown type music at several points throughout the film in particular towards the end. I can't describe it any better than that but I liked it.
Though the Trisha character, heroine of the first two movies is not part of this one she is talked about in a story told by Nolan around the camp fire. It's a shame the actress herself didn't return if only for a brief cameo but at least she is mentioned and not completely ignored. We get to find out what happened to her at least which is good as the ending to the second film left her fate very much up in the air.
Mild spoiler here: The reveal of the killer at the end was more impactful this time and was closer in line with what I experienced while watching the original. I felt the killer in the second film was too predictable but that wasn't the case so much here and it kept me guessing much more. At the same time though is still remained true to what the other films had established regarding the killer.
The production values seem better this time around with the picture quality in particular being much more vibrant and clear. Mind you you would hope it would be seeing how bad it was before especially in the first one. The acting seemed better as well on the whole with the brains behind the reality show (think he may have been called Tony) adding some class to the proceedings. The contestants are a decent bunch as well. Though not as good as Tricia I thought Jennifer made for a fair enough final girl and Nolan was very good. Kat and Russ were both effective as comic relief.
Bad Points: One thing I was disappointed with was that aside from hiring a guy to play the role of the clown the man behind the show didn't try and scare the contestants by any other means. It says on the back of the DVD case though that the producers have rigged several scares to try and clear them out but this wasn't the case. (I think the bloody pictures were supposed to be like that due to Ingrid's blood so not something planted by Tony). I was expecting some wailing/screaming noises from concealed speakers to come into play or a dummy set up to look like a body in an effort to spook the kids but it didn't happen.
In a similarity with the second film it was slightly unrealistic that they didn't have a bigger crew than just Tony himself and Griff. Ingrid was part of it too I guess but she only found out about it slightly before it was due to start. They should perhaps have had more cameras as well as I think they said they only had twelve so it wasn't many at all. With so few you would think they would also require a few camera men on hand or for the contestants to film it themselves. Also I thought it was weird that they only had five contestants and not an even number, three girls and three boys would have made more sense so that they could all potentially pair up.
Spoiler in this point: Presumably the killer was wearing a bullet proof vest to survive the multiple gun shots from Tony. It would have been nice to see confirmation of this though at the end. Jennifer could have pulled back some of the outfit to reveal it at the same time as taking the mask off. It also wasn't explained how the killer knew where to go to catch up with Tony and Jennifer in the control room seeing that they traveled there by car so it must have been some distance away from where the murderer was left for dead.
I didn't think the gore effects were quite up to the standard of those seen previously or at least not as good as those seen in part 2. They weren't bad, passable for sure but not something I could pick out as a good point this time around as I think I did with the other two. Some more variation would have been welcome as well instead of most of the deaths occurring due to a machete. Perhaps they spent more of the budget on the picture quality and actors with this film so didn't have as much money to play with when it came to the deaths and special effects.
Verdict: Another solid outing for the Camp Blood franchise in my book and a good way to round out what at the time was probably intended to just be a trilogy. Having since seen the latter films I think for the most part things fall steeply down hill after this but the initial Brad Sykes trilogy concluded with this film won me over big time. There is a lot of negativity and hate surrounding the films I know (deservedly so for some of the latter films as we'll see) but these Brad Sykes entries I think are appealing and very good fun. This one could have been better with more effort put into scaring the kids by the reality show boss and with more realism regarding the cameras and how the whole show was supposed to be shot. Overall though I found this to be better than number two and I think the improved production values will be a pleasant surprise to many as this was potentially something which really put people off about the first two.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Rick: Throat cut with machete.
2) Cindy: Killed with machete.
3) Ingrid: Slashed with machete.
4) Griff: After a scuffle with the killer he falls to the ground onto an upturned branch which pierces his skull and hooks out his eye.
5) Model in the Tricia story: Found with throat cut.
6) Belgium photographer in story: Stabbed in the back.
7) Nolan: Repeatedly stabbed with a hunting knife.
8) Russ: Impaled through the back by thrown machete.
9) Mel: Killed with machete.
10) Tony: Hand lopped off which presumably killed him as it did with that crew worker in number 2.
11) Kat: Electrocuted after she accidentally cuts through a live cable in the control room.