Never too old for summer camp!
The original movie was sleazy and the first two sequels more accessible. Not that they were both swept under the rug, here, but only Part 1 matters in terms of continuity. The franchise was built off shock value, but never kept up with the original vibe. No writer, prior to Return to Sleepaway Camp, felt comfortable integrating the antagonist’s ambiguous sexual identity as a pivotal element.
This is so close to the original material that it at first feels like a remake. Contrary to the 1983 classic, though, the lead actor is a dumb, obnoxious and unlikable teen. He is who we follow and we wonder why. His presence and temper are reminiscent of the bullies of Sleepaway Camp, but he’s not the type to keep secrets for too long. This is a whodunit, and he is a walking red herring.
The best scenes from the original film are equaled or re-imagined. The ambiance is perfectly matched. As if to redeem himself, the creator also revamps his most controversial moments and tries to tone down the stuff a random audience wouldn't want to hear. Whatever you liked about the first film you will find here. This feels like it was shot fifteen years prior and follows its own formula.