Horror movie list: Camping is deadly!

I loved camping as a kid. Admitted, I am from Germany and especially back before David Hasselhoff single-handedly tore down the wall, people from East Germany had not many holiday-joys left other than camping or depressing tower block hotels with a gazillion people in them. But even camping was less the solitary trip into nature that most other people know but rather a big field with a lot of people in tents surrounded by nature (and Trabis). I mainly loved it because I loved reading books and comics in the tent when it was raining (which it naturally does whenever you decide to go camping in a tent) and eating junk food. Since these are the only things I fondly remember of camping, maybe I just liked staying in and reading (it would make sense given my present inclinations).

When I was older and really into music, I had to do the camping as a trade with the devil to spend time on festivals. I did this throughout my twenties and at some point realized that I absolutely loathed camping on festivals. It’s too loud, you can’t sleep, gross people will pee against your tent, the toilets are so disgusting that you will immediately wish humanity to die out and to be honest, once I moved to Berlin, I didn’t need to go to festivals anymore to see some bands. I was drowning in them!

So, there’s a weird ambivalence for me when it comes to camping. I think that the nature, clear air and loneliness is amazing. On the other hand, if you really go non-German camping, like, in nature without any other people, then it’s actually scary because there’s no Wi-Fi in nature!

Lo and behold, there’s naturally quite a few camping-based horror movies out there. I guess one of the main reasons is the advantage of not having to get permits for tons of buildings, rooms and streets. You also don’t have that many idiots walking through the set or onlookers. Especially found footage is crazy about camping and forests and weirdo lakes with ghastly secrets. So let’s see which movies I found that I actually can recommend.

(some spoilers ahead but I try to be nice)

  1. Blair Witch Project (1999)

IT’S A CLASSIC! I love “Blair Witch Project” because the low-budget production and incredibly smart use of scares without showing much the movie ages very gracefully and still is scary for anyone who doesn’t need the monster-ama to enjoy a horror movie.

I recommend to stay far away from the sequel and the “what the hell was that?”-third movie that might not be as bad as the sequel but is equally unnecessary and pointless.

FYI: I’ve recently read a thread by a movie critic who actually said that BWP is no real found footage movie (in contrast to “Chronicles”, as he said) which is preposterous. He stated that some takes did not feel like a person would have recorded them under these circumstances. Now, “Chronicles” is a bigger budget movie that looks like found footage but has not even been recorded solely with handheld cameras, whereas Blair Witch is fully recorded with handheld devices, so screw that. Since he also failed to name other amazing Found Footage movies like “Tunnels” or “As above so below”, I file this under “delusional critic thinks he’s figured it all out even though it’s a crap take”.

  1. Man Vs. (2016)

This movie is my ideal type of horror movie. It has a simple premise (survivalist gets dropped into the wild for five days alone to shoot his TV show), an amazing actor (Chris Diamantopoulos (known as douchey investor in “Silicon Valley”)) and a plot that is fast-paced and quite innovative when it comes to the “shit happens in the woods”-genre. It is a real gem and incredibly underrated.

(Btw: contrary to the trailer description, this movie is actually not a found footage movie because it alternates between handheld camera-takes by the main protagonist and normal, edited, movie camera shots).

  1. Altar (2016)

So, this is a very indie, very low-budget movie (not to be confused with the Matthew Modine-movie of the same name from 2014) which I would like to include because I was positively surprised by it especially since the acting is pretty good compared to other low-budget projects. The story revolves around siblings Maisy (Stefanie Estes) and Bo (Jesse Parr) who take a trip with Maisy’s friends to get away from the trauma of some family drama. Suffice to say, things go wrong on the camping trail …

The one gripe I have with this movie is one very specific prop that looks like it came from a sales table after Halloween. It really is that bad (you know it when you see it).

  1. Willow Creek (2013)

One of the most amazing things in the American movie history is the fact that the loud screaming guy from “Police Academy”, Bobcat Goldwaith, is actually a super prolific director (and former political stand-up comedian) who, for example, did “Scrooged”. Since he’s currently working on an actual documentary on Bigfoot, I guess “Willow Creek” was part of a bigger passion. The movie itself is a somewhat found footage movie about a couple driving to Willow Creek (where that Bigfoot clip was shot) and try to find proof that Bigfoot exists. I feel sorry for the USA when that lanky hairy dude is the most famous monster in its culture because it’s so lame. But Goldwaith’s movie a rare sight amongst the less frightening Bigfoot movies (although it was traumatic for me when Jim had to leave the Hendersons).

The movie is a slow burner (which I like, so no surprises there) but makes it up with some lovely and partially eccentric tales and songs about Bigfoot as well as the great chemistry of Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson as “Kelly” and “Jim”.

Btw: if you enjoy Bigfoot-themed horror, “Exists” might also be your cup of tea. Because it’s about a group of friends camping but also sleeping in a cabin (that’s not real camping!), I didn’t want to add it individually but it works as an addendum. It is a little Bro-ish, though, so be warned.

  1. The Ritual (2018)

This is an adaption of the novel by the same name written by Adam Nevill. I LOVED the novel and was ready to tell everyone that it’s so much better than the movie but then David Bruckner directed it and he’s responsible for some pretty amazing horror movies (including “The Signal” which is an amazing and weird trip). Another big sell for this movie is Keith Thompson who did the Concept Art. “The Ritual” is one of those novels where you’re really curious how they would translate it into a movie and this is a prime example, how to do it. It’s quite breathtaking and I was pretty much overwhelmed by the design and can’t say anything about it because I don’t want to spoil it for you.

The one thing the book did better than the movie and that probably is due to the constraints of a movie that doesn’t go overboard length-wise – the characters are not as fully fledged and at times scrape by being kinda flat. But I forgive that minor sin because otherwise this movie looks gorgeous, is superbly told and is absolutely terrifying.

  1. Wilderness (2016)

After an “incident” at a juvenile correction facility, a group of young male delinquents get sent onto an island for some outdoor survival training. They soon find out that they’re not alone …

The movie is pretty by the numbers, a little bit “Full Metal Jacket” at the beginning (but a lot less ambitious), a little bit “Stand by Me” and a whole lot of British swearing. For this list, it’s a fittingly camp entry that shows its age but is still quite entertaining (although hardly scary).

Sickhouse (2016)

This movie fits into several of my favourite categories:
attractive people lost in the woods – check
going after an urban legend – check
found footage & social media – check
Sickhouse tells the story if an influencer who goes camping with her cousin (who is going through something), her boyfriend and a friend to find the “sickhouse” which apparently belonged to a man who killed his wife. This movie was filmed entirely on Snapchat, so if you don’t like a Smartphone-screen, shaky camera and so-so-audio, this might be not for you. However, the acting is surprisingly good, the banter is enjoyable and the spoops are actually pretty well made, even though there was not a lot of budget for special effects (which also means that people looking for a big monster pay-off will be disappointed). This was a super nice surprise for me and it was directed by a woman (YouTube personality Andrea Russett who also acts in it) which is always great.


More horror movie lists with varying quality can be found here, click, enjoy the selections and even find some horror-themed music playlists, booray!

10 thoughts on “Horror movie list: Camping is deadly!

  1. Thank you for the suggestions. Blair With Project is … not my thing, but some of the others sound interesting, so I might try them.
    I actually read Apartment 16 by Nevill. One of my more boring book experiences. But maybe it was my fault. I had the nagging feeling of missing something.

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    1. No, it wasn’t your fault. I bought “Apartment 16” after “The Ritual” and was bored out of my mind. So much, in fact, that I haven’t read any other Neville after that. But since I got back into horror novels I found that most haunted house/haunted room-stories are kinda lame, so maybe it’s the sub-genre that’s generally a little lackluster?

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      1. I did not like the movie. I think the story itself was alright but I remember that I was not a fan of the ending but it’s been a long time, so who knows. Maybe I’ll watch it again and see how I like it now.
        There’s more haunted house horror movies that I enjoy than novels because, I guess, it’s easier to convey moving shadows and weird apparitions visually than on a page (the “did I see it or not” doesn’t really work with sentences you can read over and over again). “Shining” was pretty intense as a read, though, so it can be done.

        Addendum: I generally am not a big fan of “am I crazy or is it ghosts”-stories, so it’s probably not 1408’s fault.

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      2. I don’t actually remember a single horror movie that worked for me, as such.
        Maybe the ring, come to think of it.
        And then there are some that work as trashy comedy, of course.
        Shining bored me to the point that I didn’t finish it.

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      3. I have quite a few movies where certain effects and ideas really worked for me but the story generally wasn’t that exciting (“Insidious” has some great visual scares but is such a hodgepodge of ideas story-wise). I scare easy because I get really into it and I love the world-building of Stephen King. I thought his idea with the evil fire hose worked so well in the book (didn’t work so well in the movie because you realize how non-threatening a fire hose actually looks), same with the snow-covered hedge-animals (which again, was great in the book but was ridiculous in that Steven Weber/Tracy Lords/annoying child actor-tv movie that King loved more than Kubrick’s version).

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    2. Okay. I had this creeping sensation that I might have read The Ritual. I concluded I hadn’t, after checking my Kindle for it, but yesterday I watched the movie and I am now positive that I’ve read it, although it’s a complete mystery how, and I can now say that both movie and book do absolutely nothing for me. Actually, they annoyed me quite a lot, but I have to admit, the book starts very strong, so that’s one point for Nevill.

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      1. That’s weird indeed. I had that once with one of those exact US remakes of European movies after I had seen the Swedish original and watched the remake years later. But I don’t think I ever had it with a book (maybe with a short story, though).
        I am starting to suspect that our tastes in horror movies/novels differ a lot. I hope that doesn’t deter you from reading this blog, though.

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      2. It won’t. If I want to read someone like me, I can read my own blog.
        I think it must be something wrong with Kindle or my use of Kindle. I have read The Ritual, and I have read it on a screen. Maybe Amazon has deleted my version or something.

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      3. Maybe it’s something like The Ring: if you read it on a Kindle, you are cursed because you won’t remember reading it, therefore continue to read it over and over again when people recommend it even if you didn’t like it in the first place.

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