Monday, November 29, 2021

"You Have Some Degree of Choice Whether to Show Your Boobs or Not" - Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp (2003) - Film #218

With the massive artistic and commercial success of Bloody Murder (2000), Hollywood had no choice but to develop a sequel, and Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp (2003) might be an even better film than its predecessor. It is certainly a different film, eschewing the flat photography and minimal violence of Bloody Murder in favor of aggressive camera angles, murder scenes that focus on murder, and an extraordinary number of crop tops.

If we were to listen to the critics of your universe, we might skip Bloody Murder 2 altogether. For example, reviewer drownnnsoda writes, "The acting, for one, was still very poor. It felt like I was watching a soap opera (just as I felt during the original), and it was beyond unbelievable." Reviewer zombified_660 writes, "Bottom line is, this movie is total utter trash." And reviewer jmbo-jons writes, "Do not go through the trouble of getting or watching this movie unless you want to fall asleep like i did."

Read on for an unbiased appreciation of Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp...

As the wind howls over a snowy landscape, we see a young woman, Tracy, wearing a thin knit poncho walk into the forest. A bright light shines in her face and her blonde hair blows in the wind. She looks up as if she’s experiencing a UFO abduction, but instead she sees a young man a short distance away. “Jason?” she says.

He tells her he can’t come home because “he” won’t let him. Then a chainsaw slices through his stomach while he stands at an awkward angle. The killer is a man with a white baby-face mask that is quite different from the mask in the first movie of the Bloody Murder franchise.

Of course, Tracy’s encounter is simply a dream. She wakes up in a camphouse bunk while birds chirp. “Bad dream?” asks her roommate.

“Yeah,” she says.

“Same one?”

“Yeah. Same one.”

The two young women look at each other for an awkward second. Then the film cuts to the next scene as several other young women run to a meeting at the camp lodge.

In a clever reversal of expectations, the counselors are being assigned to lock the camp down for winter instead of opening it up for summer. Their boss, a man named Rick with an unusual amount of white specks on his t-shirt, hands out assignments.

The film cuts to night, where the counselors drink bottled beer around a campfire.

“Now that the little bastards have gone home to their mommies and daddies, we turn our thoughts to more adult pursuits.”

A counselor suggests a game of Bloody Murder, which is basically tag, and the others agree (clearly, tag is the very definition of an “adult pursuit”). Tracy and her boyfriend Mike decide to return to their cabins and not play the game, prompting another counselor to tell everyone (and the audience) that Tracy’s brother Jason disappeared five years ago, supposedly killed by the legendary Trevor Moorehouse. After dropping Tracy off chastely at her cabin, Mike returns to the campfire, where nobody has done anything for ten minutes. Next, the film does something the first Bloody Murder (2000) never did: explains the legend of Trevor Moorehouse, which involves an accident caused by a prank by the counselors.

“His face was so badly disfigured that he took to wearing a mask all the time,” says James.

“Yeah,” says Rick. “How’d you know?”

“Every summer camp has a Trevor Moorehouse,” James says wisely. Because of his wisecracking, the group volunteers James to be “it.” One of the counselors, played by Tiffany Shepis, blindfolds James and they start the game of Bloody Murder, which plays out exactly as it did in the first film, except with more slanted camera angles. The counselors pretend to be hockey-masked Trevor Moorehouse to terrorize James. 

Unfortunately for James, he remains at the campfire after everyone else leaves, and he is soon attacked by the doll-masked killer from Tracy’s dream, who imaginatively chops off both of James’s legs with a machete and then lifts one up so he can see it.

For unknown reasons, this causes James to vomit some kind of yellow liquid before the killer smashes a rock onto his head.

The next day, the counselors meet in the mess hall. The food services worker, Juanita, who is dressed like a French maid for unexplained reasons, blames Trevor Moorehouse and crosses herself when she hears James is not among them. “You blame Trevor Moorehouse if the milk spoils,” says Mike. (Suspiciously, nobody mentions whether the milk has spoiled or not.)

Later, the sole black counselor, Elvis, and one of the female counselors, Sofie, argue about who would die first if Trevor Moorehouse was real and they were in a slasher movie. Elvis argues, “You have some degree of choice whether to show your boobs or not, and to whom. Me, I’m black no matter what I do.” (It must be noted these two actors give utterly convincing portrayals of people in their early twenties who don’t really care what they are saying and doing.)

Almost immediately, Ms. Shepis takes a shower with her boyfriend, revealing her breasts and thus sealing her fate. Her boyfriend is quickly killed with an arrow through his neck, then buried alive (the film includes the obligatory shot of a shovelful of dirt tossed onto the camera to transition to the next shot). Tracy, apparently watching birds through binoculars, spots the masked killer in a Bigfoot-like pose and runs back to camp to tell everyone she has seen Trevor Moorehouse (not mentioning that the baby-faced mask is completely different from the hockey mask of Trevor Moorehouse myth).

The film continues to give slasher film fans what they want: people walking around the woods at night, and Ms. Shepis frequently taking off her clothes. Suspicion lands on Rick, the camp’s manager. Eventually, Ms. Shepis finds the dead body of her old boyfriend in the woods. After the sheriff and several deputies begin their investigation, the filmmakers present a stylish shower sequence as the masked killer stalks Tracy, first punching a deputy and then hiding the girls’ shower area. However, despite invading the girls’ shower, the killer’s real target is the black counselor Elvis, who is showering in the boys’ shower. Elvis is stabbed while the lights flicker on and off in a stylish strobe effect.

Shockingly, when the sheriff and his deputies arrive, they find the baby-face mask in Mike’s cabin! Could Tracy’s boyfriend be the killer? (Obviously, the answer is no.) To incriminate Mike even further, the filmmakers have Tracy find a camcorder hidden in the crook of a tree; when she reviews the camcorder’s footage, she sees Mike enter a cabin and the masked killer exit a few seconds later!

When the police apprehend Mike, Rick tells the sheriff, “I thought we were gonna make it through this whole summer without any trouble.”

“That’s what they say every summer,” replies the sheriff.

At night, Tracy has another dream. We can tell it’s a dream because it’s foggy and because Tracy is not wearing a crop top. In the dream, Tracy approaches the killer, who takes off his mask to reveal Rick’s face. Tracy puts on a new crop top and goes to the mess hall, where she tries to summarize the plot to Ms. Shepis and Sofie. “It just doesn’t make sense. We’re missing something.”

Angela reveals that it couldn’t have been Mike because she was having sex with Mike when Elvis was killed. Tracy doesn’t seem to care too much that Angela was sleeping with Tracy’s boyfriend, so they continue working out the plot of the film. They decide to find the murder victims’ pagers as well as Rick’s pager to see who paged whom, which will somehow solve the crime.

Tracy sneaks into the shower hall while Rick is taking a shower. She finds Rick’s pager, but none of the pages to the victims were from Rick, meaning Rick is not the killer.

Night falls suddenly. The female counselors walk around the camp looking for more evidence. Tracy watches the videotape from the camcorder again (which apparently has not been confiscated as evidence) and finds that the footage was doctored with an invisible cut to frame Mike.

In the forest, Tiffany Shepis hears a pager, turns, and sees the masked killer (the mask has apparently not been confiscated as evidence either). Unfortunately for Ms. Shepis, the killer buries the blade of a machete in her head.

After some more exploring of the camp, Tracy finds a bloody backpack and confronts Rick. Now Tracy believes Rick is the killer again, despite the fact that she thought the pager cleared him. She runs away from Rick, who chases her so she can explain everything to her. She locks him in a cabin and calls the sheriff. Rick continues to chase Tracy suspiciously until the sheriff shows up and shoots Rick in the back (ignoring the possible trajectory of the bullet through Rick and straight into Tracy).

Tracy gets in the sheriff’s vehicle to drive to the station. During the ride, they have a casual conversation. The sheriff says, “I told them they shouldn’t have opened this place after all the trouble they had here five years ago.” Then he adds, rather unwisely in my opinion, “I thought I was in the clear when I framed your boyfriend for all those crimes. Digital video, conclusive evidence. Then you put a glitch in my plan.”

The sheriff stops the car, and only then does he show her that Mike’s bloody body is sitting in the back seat of the patrol car. He takes her out of the car and handcuffs her to a tree, but he doesn’t kill her until he explains his motivation: He is Trevor Moorehouse’s father, who was the camp director but went out-of-state for police experience to enact his plan of returning to camp and killing counselors. 

The final stalking sequence has the two crop-topped survivors running around camp fending off the sheriff.

Just when it looks like the sheriff will kill both counselors, the masked killer appears behind him with a chainsaw. “Trevor?” says the sheriff. “It’s me! Your daddy!”

The killer chops off the sheriff’s head.

He leaves the counselors alone and drags the sheriff’s body into the forest.

The film ends with Tracy’s final dream, where her brother Jason stands in the woods. When Tracy wakes up, she and the other counselor are alive. The two walk toward the rising sun, both of their crop tops intact.

The End

Although written by John R. Stevenson, who also wrote the original Bloody Murder (2000) and tragically nothing else, Bloody Murder 2 is clearly a director's film. Director Rob Spera counters the first film's bland shooting style with a massive amount of Dutch angles, creative murders, and crop tops. Notably, the filmmakers also murder the male camp counselors, until Ms. Shepis is killed with a machete. The film also continues the first film's self-awareness, probably inspired by Scream (1996), with Black counselor Elvis lamenting that Black characters and women who show their breasts are generally killed early in slasher films. Of course, both Elvis and Tiffany Shepis (who shows her breasts repeatedly) are among the victims, proving Elvis correct. And in the end, the mystery is revealed as the sheriff explains his plan of becoming a police officer so he can kill people, only to find that his son is alive and killing people as well. Thus, the ending of the film solves all the mysteries of the series except one: Why does Trevor Moorehouse wear a hockey mask in the first film and a baby-face mask in the second film? Although the characters fail to comment on the change, it is quite noticeable to the viewer. Did Trevor Moorehouse lose his original mask? Does he have a collection of masks to be used in different films? Was there a legal threat from Paramount Pictures? Only the next film in the Bloody Murder series could provide the answer, but unfortunately the only follow-up to Bloody Murder 2 was the spinoff The Graveyard (2006), in which Camp Placid Pines is reimagined as a cemetery for unknown reasons. So we must all remain in suspense until the next film in the series is released. I know I will be holding my breath, as will countless other fans of the most terrifying slasher series of the early 2000s.