By David Dent
The horror movie genre has used the Groundhog Day principle of characters being stuck in a loop several times.
2013’s Haunter had a dead teenager stuck reliving the same day over and over. 2017’s Happy Death Day saw a college student forced to relive the day of her death continuously. And now we have the oddly titled The Campus, which develops the theme once again.
Directed by the prolific US writer and director Jason Horton (that’s just J to you) The Campus is the story of Morgan, a woman estranged from her father who returns to the family fold on the day of his funeral, determined to rip off his business and get what’s finally due to her, while being ragged on by her younger sister.
Well she gets a little more than planned when she is murdered by a group of shambling masked figures while in the process of robbing dad’s warehouse.
Those fearing a Marion Crane style early exit for a central character need not worry; Morgan is magically restored to life after her ordeal, only to go through the same thing again and again.
Turns out that dead dad did a deal with the devil while plundering relics in the Kalahari Desert some years earlier, sparing his soul but offering his first born’s instead. So now Satan is after Morgan, but can only claim her soul after he’s taken its constituent parts.
Horton has made some faith features in the past, which shows through in The Campus’s plotting: while this film doesn’t stint on the gore and mayhem (some good practical effects here) it’s still a rather transparently obvious good vs evil tale, and its logic doesn’t bear investigating too closely.
But the director was obviously working on a tight budget, and if his narrative ambitions sometimes exceed the execution, Horton is to be applauded for a film which throws quite a lot in and mixes up the genres fairly effectively.
Full marks also to Rachel Amanda Bryant as Morgan, who is quite the game actor when it comes to getting down and gloopy with the red stuff.