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Review: Clever plotting brings atmospheric ghost story ‘Camp Cold Brook’ to life

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Chad Michael Murray in the movie “Camp Cold Brook.”
(Shout! Studios)

Though it has the title and setting of an old-fashioned “killer in the woods” slasher flick, the supernatural thriller “Camp Cold Brook” is more of a cleverly plotted, atmospheric ghost story. Very little about this movie feels fresh or original; but a talented cast, a solid Alex Carl script, and director Andy Palmer’s energetic pace and playful tone do make “Camp Cold Brook” unusually fun.

Genre vets Chad Michael Murray and Danielle Harris play Jack and Angela, the host and producer of a foundering ghost-hunting reality TV show. Given the chance to make one final, pull-out-all-the-stops episode, the “Haunt Squad” team heads to Oklahoma, to an abandoned summer camp where a dozen or so kids drowned 20 years ago, possibly — according to legend — at a witch’s hands.

In the early going, “Camp Cold Brook” plays a little like “Paranormal Activity.” Jack and Angela and their crew set up cameras around the camp, then spend a lot of time staring into screens at hazy black-and-white images that occasionally reveal something vaguely mysterious or outright shocking.

Palmer and the cast handle these very basic scare-scenes effectively. The movie also takes the time to establish a chemistry and a history among the main characters, ultimately setting up a genuinely surprising twist.

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The big stinger ending is arguably a little corny. But it’s a measure of how enjoyable “Camp Cold Brook” is that the inevitable suggestion of a possible sequel isn’t unwelcome. For a formulaic horror picture, that’s high praise.

'Camp Cold Brook'
Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

Playing: Starts Friday, Laemmle Glendale; also on VOD


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