GENREBLAST FILM FESTIVAL: Eating Miss Campbell (2022)

The GenreBlast Film Festival is entering its sixth year of genre film goodness. A one-of-a-kind film experience created for both filmmakers and film lovers to celebrate genre filmmaking in an approachable environment, it has been described by Movie Maker Magazine as a “summer camp for filmmakers.”

Over the next few days, I’ll be reviewing several movies from this fest, based in the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester, Virginia. This year, there are 14 feature films and 87 short films from all over the world. Weekend passes are only $65 and you can get them right here.

Eating Miss Campbell (2022): Every time Beth (Lyndsey Craine) dies — at her own hand — she wakes up in another horror movie. This time, it’s a cannibal romantic comedy. And that idea, that Beth wants to die but might learn something from each new film, is a great one. It doesn’t come back into this film at all, which is the first of the misfires that this movie commits.

Director and writer Liam Regan, my enthusiasm for this diminished somewhat when a Troma logo came across the screen. As for the story, well, only one student at Henenlotter High School — get it? get it? the film seems to nudge you; the same school also is the setting of Regan’s My Bloody Banjo — can win the “All You Can Eat Massacre” contest and get a handgun of their own with which they can either soot their fellow students or kill themselves.

Yet there may be hope. Beth has a crush on English teacher Miss Campbell (Lala Barlow) which seems to play out as a need to consume human flesh. This is the exact opposite of her vegan ethos yet eating one’s enemies is such sweet revenge.

The rest of the film uses teen movie stereotypes from HeathersTragedy Girls and Mean Girls to move along its tale of girl cliques and male sexual predators. Of all the imagery and ideas taken by this movie, I liked that one of the female bullies favors Road Warrior Hawk makeup.

The movie — well, the evil teacher Nancy Applegate (Annabella Rich) — refers to Beth as “the millennial product of the American high school trope” and that would be an intriguing meta comment were it not so on the nose. Sure, her mother is dead, she has a horrible stepfather and school sucks, but why does she want to end her existence beyond a “woe is me” attitude? Far be it from me to expect good taste in film, much like exploitation, but I do definitely demand a character who has a reason for their deepest desire, even if it is dying.

If she really wants to live in a movie life that isn’t nostalgic horror, why does she play into the same cliches throughout? That motivation is never truly explored. Instead, there are endless references to other movies — if this were a Marvel comic, there’d be an editor note in every panel, cluttering this up with reference upon reference — and can you top this gross-out humor. Trust me, I love humor like that. Lloyd Kaufmann saying “Alex Baldwin” and blowing out his brains is anything but wit.

To be satire, one must have some position from which to state why something is worthy of ridicule, lest it becomes exactly what it is deriding. If you want to make fun of direct-to-video horror, that’s not that hard. If you want to make a satire about hot button issues like date rape and teen suicide, go for it. But you better bring your best material. And if this is it, well, I have no interest in seeing what comes next.

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