Joe Dante Presents: Camp Cold Brook (Movie Review)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: With one chance to save his reality show from cancellation, a professional ghost hunter chooses to shoot a special episode at a camp where 30 people were killed by a woman who was accused of being a witch.

REVIEW: I was drawn to CAMP COLD BROOK due to the setting, as I love when a horror movie is set at a camp, and the talent involved. Genre legend Joe Dante was an executive producer on the film and gets a "Joe Dante Presents" credit in front of the title, one of the lead characters is played by Danielle Harris, and it was directed by Andy Palmer, who made THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE a few years back. That seemed like a winning combination, but while things got off to a promising start I found that CAMP COLD BROOK fell apart in its second half. 

Chad Michael Murray plays Jack Wilson, the producer and host of the ghost hunting reality show Haunt Squad, and at the start of the film Jack is notified by a network executive (CHILDREN OF THE CORN's Courtney Gains) that the show is being cancelled at the end of its current season. A family man who's already dealing with financial troubles, Jack has to find a way to save his show, and the executive gives him some hope – if he puts together a 90 minute Haunt Squad special that gets good ratings, there might be another season. So now Jack has to find a good subject for this show-saving special. At the suggestion of ghost hunting team member Emma (Candice De Visser), he chooses to investigate the haunting of the titular location in Oklahoma.

Camp Cold Brook Andy Palmer Chad Michael Murray

Brushing aside the warnings of locals, Jack, Emma, and fellow team members Angela (Danielle Harris) and Kevin (Michael Eric Reid) head out to Camp Cold Brook, which has been abandoned since 1991, when a woman everyone accused of being a witch poisoned and drowned thirty of the campers, believing that the deaths of thirty would resurrect her young daughter, who was hit by a car while crossing the road. Her plan didn't work out, and the witch set herself on fire rather than be apprehended by the police. That back story sort of seems like FRIDAY THE 13TH mixed with PUMPKINHEAD, and I was fully ready to be blown away by the sight of some awesome paranormal activity in the wilderness.

Unfortunately, the haunting of Camp Cold Brook is quite lackluster. I was with the movie through the set-up, I appreciated the work Palmer and screenwriter did to let us get to know the characters, but then when the ghost action kicked in I was given little more to enjoy than scenes of people wandering through dark areas, jumping at the sound of laughing invisible children, and walking in circles in the woods. Very little happens until the end of the movie, when an unnecessary twist comes along to add a level of ridiculousness to the story.

CAMP COLD BROOK had a lot of potential that it squandered. The story is great, and I liked that most of this ghost hunting team has been out in the field being disappointed for so long that they have become skeptics. Jack runs the show and hosts it, but he no longer actually believes in ghosts. A new addition to the team, Emma still thinks there's something out there. The activity at the camp proves to everyone that an afterlife does exist, and while Kevin remains an annoying, whiny character throughout, I enjoyed watching Harris's Angela get more and more scared as the film went on. The movie just dropped the ball with the scenes focused on the actual haunting. The spirits of a witch and her thirty victims should have been able to trouble people in a much more interesting and frightening way than they do here.

Camp Cold Brook Andy Palmer Chad Michael Murray Danielle Harris Michael Eric Reid

At least the filmmakers didn't make the choice to present this as a found footage movie, something they easily could have done since the characters carry around cameras and also have cameras set up around the camp. We do see through their cameras from time to time, but thankfully it's a traditionally shot film – which also allows for flashbacks and cut aways to other characters when needed.

If you're in the mood for a ghost story, you can certainly do worse than CAMP COLD BROOK, but it was too dull and uneventful for me to be able to recommend it.

CAMP COLD BROOK is available to watch through Amazon Prime, or it can also be purchased on DVD and Blu-ray.

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.