Elm Camp (also marketed on Blu Ray and DVD as Psychopath) is a 2013 slasher horror film written and directed by Guillermo del Toro who also served as executive producer. The film is largely known for its twist ending which is considered by some to be one of the most shocking endings among horror films. The film stars Thomas Sangster, Bonnie Wright, Karen Gillan and Dylan O'Brien.
The film centers on the encounter between a model, Lisa Ray (Wright) and her group of friends who ends up at a distant summer camp after embezzling money from her father, and the camp's disturbed owner-manager, Charles Elm (Sangster), and its aftermath. When originally made, the film was seen as a departure from del Toro's previous films like Pacific Rim, having been filmed on a low budget, with a less known crew and in black and white. Elm Camp initially received mixed reviews, but outstanding box office returns prompted reconsideration which led to overwhelming critical acclaim and four Academy Award nominations, including and Best Director for del Toro.
It is now considered del Toro's best films and praised as a work of cinematic art by international film critics and film scholars. Ranked among the greatest films of all time, it set a new level of acceptability for violence, deviant behavior and sexuality in American films. After del Toro's departure from films in 2015, Universal Studios began producing follow-ups: three sequels, a television movie spin-off, and a TV series.
In 2016, the US Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
In 1995, Eliza Elm and her lover, Jonathan, take Eliza's children, Mona and Charles on a boating trip. After the boat capsizes, Eliza, Jonathan and the children attempt to swim ashore, but they swim into the path of a reckless motorboat driver and are struck. It is seen that Eliza and Jonathan are killed, while Mona was severely scarred.
Nineteen years alter, Edith Lawton (Bonnie Wright) and her boyfriend, Derick Mason (Lucas Till) meet for a secret romantic rendezvous during lunch hour at Lisa's apartment in Manhattan. They discuss how they can barely afford to get a Christmas party with their friends they have been planning since 2014. Edith returns to work at a hotel, where a client comes in with $80,000 in cash to purchase a room for him and his wife. The money is entrusted to Edith, who decides to steal it and skip town alongside Derick to their Christmas party and their friends Laura Carter (Carey Mulligan), Peter Jameson (Vincent Martella), Daniel Irons (Will Pouter), Sarah Kassidy (Kaya Scodelario) and Peter's irresponsible uncle Shawn (Bruce Greenwood).
On the road, they all pulls over to sleep in a improvised is awakened by local policeman, Jim Wayne (Mike Colter) who can tell something is wrong. Wayne lets them go as Shawn bribes him, but upon arriving in another town, the group pulls into a used car dealership and hastily exchanges Edith's car for another one, in order to cover their tracks. Driving during a rainy night, they pulls up to the Elm Camp, a remote camp that has lost business for quite some time due to a diversion of the main highway and the death of it's owner Eliza, which makes it a perfect place for the group to hide. An old fisherman named Joe (Bruno Ganz) reacts to the news of the the group locating there by warning Edith and that the camp has a "death curse", since the death of of the camp's owner, Eliza. The proprietor, youthful but nervous Charles Elm (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), push out Joe, whom he says is a crazy drunk, and invites them to a light dinner in the camp's main cabin. Charles discloses that his sister Mona is mentally ill after the accident which claimed the life of his mother and her lover, but he becomes irational when Edith and the group suggests that he should be institutionalized. Shawn advises Peter that he was going to stay on the nearby town and would be back in some days in order to cover tracks which could led the police to Edith and their group, which Derick relutanctly agrees. Edith then takes a shower in her room, during which a feminine shadowy figure enters the bathroom and stabs her to death. Charles discovers Laura's dead body, and, out of fear, secretly wraps the body in the shower curtain and cleans up the bathroom. He puts Laura's body in the trunk of Edith's car and sinks it in the camp's lake.
At the camp, the group are refurbishing the cabins and facilities. As a storm closes in, Charles leaves the group to get more supplies, which is a lie, as he departs to talk to his sister, Mona, only heard, saying he doesn't like the sudden appearance of visitors. The unidentified feminine figure arrives at the camp and begins to isolate and murder the remaining friends. Later that evening, Shawn returns from town and is also murdered, having his head hidden inside a wash machine. Edith begins to worry after she hears someone screaming in the dark, so she and Derick, the only two left alive and unaware of what is going on, leave the cabin to investigate. The pair discovers a bloody axe in Sarah's throat. They attempt to phone the police, but the phones are dead and the car are nowhere to be seen. When the lights go out all over the camp, Derick goes to check on the power generator, alone. Edith heads out looking for Derick when he does not return; she finds his dead body pinned to the door of the shed. Lisa flees back to the main cabin and hides, just to be killed by the unknown figure.
In NY, Edith's sister Mary Cullen (Karen Gillan) and husband Fred (Charlie Cox) are concerned about her disappearance. A detective named Jason Hill (Brad Dourif) confirms Edith is suspected of having stolen $40,000 from her employer. Hill eventually finds the Elm Camp, where Charles evasiveness and stammering arouse his suspicions; when Charles mentions that Edith and her friends had met his sister, Hill demands to speak to her, but Charles refuses, saying she isn't able at the moment. Hill later enters the Elm's residence, looking for Mona. The figure emerges from his room and murders Hill by stabbing him on his left eye, then rolling through the staits.
Fearing something has happened to Hill, Mary and Fred go to the town of Springfield and talk with the local sheriff, Phillip Morris (Keith David). He is puzzled by the detective's claim that he was planning to talk to Mona, stating that Mona was catatonic since a motorboat accident, as it was generally believed, don't even managing to talk. Back at the Elm Camp, Charles, seen from above, carries Mona down to the cellar of their house as she verbally protests the arrangement.
Mary and Fred rent a room at Elm's Camp and search the cabin that Edith and her friends stayed in. Mary finds a scrap of paper with "$80,000" written on it while Fred notes that the bathtub has a removed shower curtain. Fred distracts Charles while Mary sneaks into the house, looking for Mona. Charles subdues Fred and chases Mary. Seeing Charles approaching, Mary hides in the cellar and discovers Mona sitting in a rocking chair. She calls out to the girl, but gets no reply. The chair rotates to reveal a hideously desiccated corpse.
Running out of despair, Mary find a naked Charles, blood covered and humming to himself and clutching both a hunting knife and Fred's severed head in his hands, with a female sex organs exposed. She screams in shock as she discover that "Charles" was actually Mona, and the murderer, all along, his thought-to-be-catatonic sister. It is revealed that the real Charles died in the accident and Mona survived, but she faked the survival of her brother, having preserving his body since the accident and maskerading it as herself. Sheriff Morris appear and subdue Charles. After Charles arrest, a psychiatrist named Dr. Victor Guedes (Federico Luppi), who interviewed Charles reveals that Charles had been. It is also implied that Mona was mentally affected by seeing her mother sharing a homosexual embrace with another woman. But with her excessive disguise as Charles, Mona developed his "brother" personality, being trapped between both of her personas forever. At times, she is able to function as Charles, but other times the real Mona personality completely dominates her. Mona is now trapped into her psychotic brother's identity, as well as her real personality permanently. Charles, in a voice-over, talks about how harmless he is, and how it was really Mona, not him, who committed the murders. The final scene shows Edith's mutilated body being recovered from the Elm Camp's lake.
- Thomas Sangster as Charles Elm / Mona Elm
- Skylar Gaetner as Young Charles Elm
- Abby Rider Fortson as Young Mona Elm
- Bonnie Wright as Edith Lawton
- Karen Gillan as Mary Cullen
- Charlie Cox as Frederic "Fred" Cullen
- Lucas Till as Derick Rogers
- Carey Mulligan as Laura Carter
- Vincent Martella as Peter Jameson
- Will Pouter as Daniel Irons
- Kaya Scodelario as Sarah Kassidy
- Bruce Greenwood as Shawn Jameson
- Brad Dourif as Detective Jason Hill
- Keith David as Sheriff Phillip Morris
- Federicco Luppi as Dr. Victor Guedes
- Mike Colter as Officer James "Jim" Wayne
- Vera Farmiga as Eliza Elm
- Emma Watson as Mona Elm (voice)
- Eliza Elm - Killed by a motorboat
- Jonathan Kane - Killed by a motorboat
- Mona Elm - Killed by a motoboat
- Laura Carter - Stabbed to death in a bathroom
- Peter Jameson - Electrocuted in the river
- Daniel Irons - Beheaded by door
- Sarah Kassidy - Throat slitted with axe
- Shawn Jameson - Decapitated
- Derick Rogers - Body pinned on door
- Edith Lawton - Axe stabbed on head (offscreen)
- Jason Hill - Stabbed on left eye
- Fred Cullen - Decapitated
The film was followed by three sequels; Elm Camp II: The Return in 2016, Elm Camp III: Last Visit in 2017 and the direct to video Elm Camp 4: A New Beggining in 2024, all which subsequently starred Sangster again, but none directed by Guillermo Del Toro.