Starring Annie Clark, Daniel Kash, Richard Clarkin and Steven Love
Being a sleepover camp veteran myself, I’m always interested in horror films set in this classic location. Anyone who has been to camp has likely heard dozens of ghost stories, and in Isaac Cravit’s SOLO, Gillian (Annie Clark of TV’s “Degrassi”) is forced to tackle one of these legends head on.
We first meet Gillian as she is being introduced as a new counselor at a summer camp. After a recent unexplained trauma, Gillian is rather fragile and is really only at the camp to change up her surroundings. She is informed by the owner of the camp (Richard Clarkin) that all new counselors must complete a “solo”, a sort of initiation, which involves the counselor spending two days alone on an island owned by the camp. This isn’t just a regular island though; a camp legend tells the story of a young girl who disappeared while on a canoe trip on the island, and it is rumored that her ghost remains there to this day. Understandably, Gillian is apprehensive about her solo; she is informed that it acts as a test that she must complete in order to get her job. Besides the creepy stranger (Daniel Kash, who bears a striking resemblance to Tony Shaloub) that sailed past their boat on the way to the island, things seem to be going fine upon Gillian’s arrival. With a slight delay, Gillian is eventually able to get her tent set up and a fire started. As expected, things begin to go bump in the night, and Gillian is left with only four possible options for who may be terrorizing her: camp owner Fred, his odd son, Marty (Steven Love), the stranger from the lake, or the ghost of young Janie herself.
The first forty-five minutes of the film are quite promising. Suspense is created and the viewer is left to wonder whether a human being is terrorizing Gillian or if it is actually a force of the supernatural. Unfortunately for both the film and the viewer, this question is answered far too soon. The film explains itself with almost a half an hour still to go, and the audience is subsequently forced to sit and watch the remaining events slowly unfold exactly as they expect them to.
SOLO is almost saved by strong acting from the entire cast and its cinematography but not quite. During the first half of the film, when the mystery is still intact, cinematographer, Stephen Chung, frames his shots cleverly, never letting viewers see too much. One scene that stands out in particular is when Gillian hears something in the dark; she shines her flashlight around outside her tent. The shot is almost entirely black except for what is in the range of the flashlight. This was the most intense scene of the entire film, even though not much happening in it at all. If the rest of the film was this mysterious and intriguing, it could have actually been great. Instead, it is just riddled with cliché.