Movie Review: The Campus

The Campus delivers on chills while paying homage to the breadth of styles that horror has to offer.

After her estranged father’s death, Morgan (Rachel Amanda Bryant) returns home for his funeral. She holds more hostility than love for her family, having been cast out before her eighteenth birthday, and uses the opportunity to burglarize her father’s business. But when she breaks into the studio campus after hours, she finds herself with more to worry about than security and shadows. Morgan finds a fate that she never knew waited for her—a supernatural death warrant her father signed before she was born—and falls into a rabbit hole of terror. She must discover how to escape the cycle of violence before she loses not just her life, but every piece of her soul.

Not satisfied with settling for a single horror subgenre, director Jason Horton uses a unique premise to blend many into one coherent film. Monsters, gore, psychological terror—they all have their place in The Campus. Each new style plays off the others, creating an atmosphere where the next fright waits just around the corner, or just behind the door, or maybe within Morgan herself. The question isn’t if Morgan will die a grisly death, but in which way?

Morgan is far from likable at first—too brash to gain sympathy and too bold for her own safety—but when the reality of her situation sets in, so does true fear. As a uniquely self-aware heroine, Morgan seems to know the ins and outs of horror films and just how to play the system to maximize her changes of survival, not that it saves her from repeated, gruesome deaths. She’s a scream queen who makes all the right choices while confronting her demons, metaphorical and physical, and still can’t escape. It’s the inevitability of the situation that breaks her and brings the audience along for the ride.

The Campus is set largely within the combination film studio and house where Morgan grew up. It’s a paragon of Hollywood—the perfect home that is really just a set with the reality of the studio just out of shot. This plays well with the fragmented personality of the film, showing the disparate aspects of Morgan, her life, and her soul. The confusing layout and mix of professional and personal turns the campus into a labyrinth. It asks the question: which parts of Morgan’s personality are real and which are simply a production? As the movie progresses, the fronts that Morgan puts up are stripped away and we see more of her natural self.

The Campus is a solid horror flick, one that horror addicts will enjoy regardless of subgenre preferences. It takes a new look at horror, hitting on popular themes and ideas in a way that keeps them fresh. There are monsters, blood and gore, and plenty of twists and turns for viewers who want to keep guessing until the last second.

The Campus is available to watch NOW on Amazon Instant Video.

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