After a horrible boating accident kills her family, Angela, a shy and sullen young girl, moves in with her eccentric aunt Martha, alongside her protective cousin Ricky. One summer, Martha sends the kids to Camp Arawak. Soon after their arrival, a series of bizarre and increasingly violent accidents begins to claim the lives of various campers. Who is the twisted individual behind these murders? The disclosure of the murderer's identity is the most shocking climax in the history of American cinema.
This film has often been written off as a poor man's Friday the 13th, which is an unfair accessment: they both primarily take place at a camp, and there are a lot of gory, disturbing murders. The similarities end there.
The beginning sets a darker tone than the Italian-inspired Friday the 13th: fun in the sun ruined by careless teenagers driving a speed boat, which colides with a family of three.
Fast forward eight years, and the only survivor, Angela, is under the care of her eccentric aunt, a bizarre and eerie woman for her limited screen time. And thus, Angela is sent back to the camp where her brother and father were killed, and is instantly a target by the popular kids. Luckily, her protective cousin Ricky is there to protect her.
There is a "who-dunnit" quality to the film, which, by today's standards, still can leave you guessing if you follow the red herrings. A lot of people would have a lot to gain from some of the (disturbing) deaths in this film, including (but not limited to): death by bee stings, by boiling water, and by curling iron to the vagina (which, thankfully in this case, is edited). Grue is on the menu for this film, but is tastefully and sometimes (thankfully) sparingly done – it’s a dark film that isn’t ruined by an over-the-top nature.
To the credit of today's audience, I don't think a lot of the "gore" would hold up to currenty CGI splatter fans, but for what it was, it was highly effective.
I personally like this (and the lesser but more amusing Part II) more than the original Friday the 13th, which may be blasphemy to some eyes and ears. But overall, this film is more dark and the gore is more intense than the film it os constantly compared to, which is sad (and unfair). Just don't expect the ending to be too shocking: it's a twist, to be sure, but today's audiences are used to twist endings. Keep that in mind, and put your more innocent glasses on, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.