Bloody Disgusting was lucky enough to have a stringer who was able to get his 80’s gear out of his closet and hit the set of a highly anticipated new camp-inspired slasher!
Guillermo Tato – who penned the Spanish-language El torreón de las muñecas – was lucky enough to spend time on the set of the now-filming Summer Camp, the Alberto Marini-directed horror pic that follows unsuspecting American camp counselors who confront a virus unlike any seen before.
Check out his report, along with some exclusive first photos from set!
After several minutes driving through a winding road leading to the outskirts of Barcelona, I finally arrive to the set of Summer Camp. This is the first film as director of Alberto Marini and it has been produced by Filmax, Rebelión Terrestre, The Safran Company and Pantelion Films. I know little about this new horror film beyond that, as the title promises, it is set in a summer camp where a group of young people are targeted as counselors only to discover that they will become victims of a strange infection causing extreme and violent anger.
The team gathered for the project has huge talent. Alongside Alberto Marini is Pablo Rosso, known for his work in the [REC] franchise or Sleep Tight (directed by Jaume Balagueró). The cast is also impressive. By the more experienced within the horror genre Jocelin Donahue (The House of the Devil) we can find Maiara Walsh find (The Starving Games), Diego Boneta (Rock of Ages) and the spaniard Andrés Velencoso (Fin). We can also spotlight the presence of Jaume Balagueró in the project, as Marini explains: “his presence is not only in a creative level, with his opinions in the script or during the shooting, and their future contribution with the edition, he has also been essential in getting this project funded. Definitely, Jaume has an active participation in Summer Camp.”
The chosen location may not be more peculiar. It’s a house consisting of a large number of rooms in which one can easily get lost, as well as a swimming pool and stables area. I’m feeling a little upset as I move along the corridors of the old house, sign that the place is an excellent choice for a horror movie. It’s the kind of place you won’t be at on your own for a whole weekend. In addition, I find that the place is full of original art elements designed for the movie, all of which shows the figure of the owl, the logo is used in the camp. We can see signs for the toilets, the bedrooms or the dining room. We could even find a fountain presiding the pool with a sculpture of the charismatic owl. “This place is very different from the stereotype of the classical american summer camp. No cabins, no lake, no canoes… This is the paradigm of the film,“” says Marini. Walsh remarks the importance of this environment in their performance. “This place is incredible. When I first step on the property I was blown away. I didn’t even have words. It makes so much easier to be in character. To allow things to terrify me here. The way we are shooting it is really terrifying.”
But everything in this movie is not what you can imagine, as Marini says. Do not expect to find the typical location of films like Friday the 13th or Sleepaway Camp. In this case it is an almost gothic cottage, almost like if was taken from a ghost movie. So we do not want to imagine what it will be when the creatures that threaten counselors within some of the shadows casted in the corners of this house and the woods that surrounds it. Marini explains: “Summer Camp was born as a bet style. Danielle and I wanted to make a horror movie, to play with the conventions of a horror movie in a summer camp and turn them over to become something completely new and surprising.” Something that Donahue remarks, “this script has a lot of the classic elements of horror movies like Friday the 13th. Since Beto knows so much about the genre he really knows how to play with the expectations of the audience.”
The night begins to take over the place, making everything even more disturbing for us. The production team is ready to begin the shooting of the first shots of the session abroad a small barn (we could see minutes ago that they actually have real chickens and goats in there). In the shoot we can see how Walsh, with fearful expressions hits Donahue with a stone on the head. It is a curt and tense shot, which can give us an idea of the kind of tension that Marini seeks for the movie. It is also a sign of the kind of physical shooting in Summer Camp. “What was really amazing is that we had two weeks of rehearsal. We got to go through the entire script and through all the action and we had action rehearsals,” explains Walsh. Diego Boneta also emphasizes the idea, “It’s a very physical movie and it’s very important to manage our energy to be one hundred percent when necessary.”
Summer Camp is also a story of four strangers who meet at a summer camp. As Walsh explains, “at the end, it’s a film about trust.” The director emphasizes the importance of trust in this environment, with the survival as the background theme. “We recovered the playful concept of horror, in a fun place where some strangers are going to have a good time. But along with this playful concept becomes the horror. It is a place where you know no one, far from your home and in an inhospitable place.”
Inevitably, given the previous experience of Marini, the [REC] series comes to our head. Marini has been executive producer of the three films of [REC] that have been released so far. But Marini warns us about this, “Summer Camp is not the daughter of [REC] but it would be different if there had been no [REC]. The main difference: there is no comedy in Summer Camp.” But one element in common is the intention to make a frenetic horror film, as explains Boneta. “Reading the script there is no time to breathe. You are all the time really stressed.” There is also a primal nexus of a threatening infection surrounding the characters. The way it behaves within the film remains a complete mystery to us.
In the last scene of which we are witnesses before leaving the set, Walsh runs away through the woods. In his hands a mobile illuminates her spooky face as he approaches an old well. Looks like she’s running away from someone (or something). At the same time she’s trying to find coverage. It is a shot with a stylish camera movement and fantastic lighting by Pablo Rosso.
One of the key elements of Summer Camp, which constantly reminds us in the interviews, is the importance of the crew. Despite his inexperience as a director Marini spent many years in different sets and shootings. As Donahue explains, “Beto has been in so many sets and you can tell that he knows what he’s doing. I never felt like I wasn’t in good hands. Ha has such a strong vision.” In addition, Marini explains that “I am relaxed because I am wrapped with the excellent cast we have, but also by the crew in which I have a lot of confidence.” That’s something that Diego Boneta reinforces, “The whole team is fantastic and wants to do the best possible horror movie.”
We say goodbye to the location by midnight. We are tired from all these hours on the set, but we realize that the crew has still five hours ahead of hard work, which makes me appreciate even more the efforts being they’re making. As they told us they still have several more night sessions ahead. But from what we have seen and the enthusiasm and ability to work shown by the people we have spoken to, we have no doubt that this effort will be worth it. We must be attentive to the progress of Summer Camp, because it promises to be one of the most interesting horror films of the year.-Guillermo Tato