The Camp Host Places a Submit-Pandemic Spin on the Wilderness Horror Style

The wilderness—darkish forests, rural backroads—is a go-to setting for the horror style for apparent causes. What higher place to see metropolis slickers flail than deep inside nature, miles from the closest cell-phone tower, surrounded by unfamiliar and inevitably hostile forces?

The Camp Host, an indie hitting free streamer Tubi this week, could be very a lot in that custom, although it throws a couple of quirks into its story that make it really feel very of the second. Written and directed by Henry Darrow McComas, who wrote Monster Squad documentary Wolfman’s Received Nards, The Camp Host follows married couple Sadie (Resident Alien’s Rachel Colwell) and Ed (Nikita’s Dillon Casey), who’ve hit the street of their camper van with their three-legged canine, Meeka, intent on absorbing nature after enduring practically three years of covid lockdown. There’s rigidity between them—a standard aspect impact of being on an prolonged street journey that’s taken them from California to Wisconsin, however you can too sense ongoing points lurking beneath the floor. Ed’s nonetheless working his job remotely; Sadie is “between issues proper now” however will get aggravated when he checks his cellphone too usually. He’s leaning towards ultimately shopping for a home and being extra settled, whereas she’s excited they’re dwelling within the second and exploring collectively.

These irritations percolate all through The Camp Host and are available to a head simply when Ed and Sadie want one another probably the most—however the principle risk within the film has nothing to do with relationship drama. As an alternative, it’s the never-named title character performed by Brooke Johnson, who careens from “welcoming” to “off-putting” virtually instantly when Sadie and Ed arrive at her campground. She’s white, however her eyes mild up when she notices Sadie is Indigenous (calling her “Child Chook” and “Thunderbird” and creepily greedy her beaded earrings), and he or she casually says issues like “I hold a loaded revolver in my camper always.” Crimson flags! However the Camp Host’s important bugaboo is her record of guidelines, which appear sensible sufficient—hearth security, observing quiet hours, and many others.—however develop into the flash level for The Camp Host’s descent into brutal violence.

Whereas The Camp Host’s story isn’t stuffed with many surprises (it’s clear Johnson’s character is harmful from the second we meet her, and the movie’s prologue foreshadows her vicious tendencies), the film does provide some welcome rewards. Although she’s clearly good and courageous, Sadie isn’t at all times a sympathetic character, however Colwell nonetheless manages to make her somebody you need to root for; in the meantime, Johnson crafts a uniquely unsettling character, an unhinged, power-mad environmentalist eagerly awaiting her subsequent excuse to lash out. There’s additionally a grotesque bathroom scene that will hang-out you the following time you’re visiting a campground’s primitive services.

The Camp Host arrives on Tubi March 16.

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