By Brett Mullins
Directed by Christian Duguay; Written by Agatha Dominik and Joe Cox
Boot Camp is a message driven film about the mistreatment and injustice minors receive at various boot camps and Teen Help compounds across the world.
Sophie (Mila Kunis) is a wayward teenager that does not respect authority well, especially that of her domineering stepfather, Karl (Serge Houde). She pushes her luck too far and is sent to Camp Serenity in the South Pacific as punishment. What appeared to be a tranquil environment for therapy on the website turns out to be a work camp, where the children are subjugated into a class system denoted by the color of their shirt. The camp is run by Dr. Normal Hail, who uses cruel and psychologically damaging methods of rehabilitating his ‘children’.
After watching this film, I was slightly annoyed: the film seemed very preachy and felt as though it vastly exaggerated the situation. After a a bit of research on these facilities, I found that there are, indeed, camps, such as the one depicted in the film. In fact, a facility shut down in Mexico was described as being much worse than the camp in the film. No matter how valid the point of the film is, it does not excuse mediocre filmmaking. In this case, a documentary would have been a more enjoyable way to spread the word to the audience.
This is not to say the film is all bad. Director Christian Duguay does a fair job at creating tension and pity without having the victims undergo any real physical harm. Mila Kunis (Black Swan) plays the lead quite well, even though she portrays a rather flat character. Gregory Smith (Hobo with a Shotgun) and Peter Stormare (Fargo, Minority Report) stand tall beside Kunis and, together, hold this film together against plot holes and scenes that just flat out don’t make sense.
Those put off by the gore horror genre may find Boot Camp interesting, but most audiences will not.
Rating : 4/10