Posted March 16, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews

Dark Summer Review


Dark Summer is a modern horror film that wants in every way to feel modern, using modern technology with modern technologically savvy teenagers to convey to its audience that this is all based now and everything is current.
Throughout the film, you are not sure whether is wants to be a horror/thriller/psychological thriller, which from the start of the film is confusing, the middle of the film you think you know what is is and by the end of the film you understand why, which makes the film work better for the storyline but doesn’t necessarily make it a better film.
From the start you given not much to work with, it’s the main character, Daniel, and it’s storyline as to why Daniel (Kier Gilchrist) has a heavily jaded and clichéd probation officer named Strokes (Peter Stormare), playing the typical ‘I do not believe anything you say or do kid because I don’t like juveniles and their mis-behavings’ is given to us from the start. Eventually we find out Daniel is under house arrest, has an electric tag on his leg, that alerts Strokes when he goes over the perimeter of his house, and that Daniel is little creepy cyber stalker that has been caught out, and he is now being made to spend his summer alone (no visitors, with a mother who is only mentioned as being ‘away’) and no access to internet, which is a horror itself because what self concerning teenager can go with social media? Daniel and his two friends (Mona and Kevin, spend the start of their summer after graduating from High School at his house, sitting by the pool smoking pot and being teenagers in middle America suburbia, all very standard teenage horror fanfare.
Like a good teen film, Daniel has friends who don’t question him and his creepy ways as to why he was cyber stalking a girl, who sneak in to see him and allow him access to their internet without even giving a opinion of was he did was right or wrong. All this feel like it all going to lead to something creepy, which is does, as the girl who was being cyber stalked by Daniel, Skypes him and shoot herself in front of him. So ensues the haunting and scares that are not very scary but make you question Daniel, if he is being haunted or is it the pot he is smoking with his friends, or the mediation he is shown to take and asked several times in the film if he has taken them, is the real reason for all the strange happenings in the film.
What happens next is played out quite well, the characters are not heroes, their just teenagers, so nothing they do screams that they are anything other than normal, which works well in the storyline to show how the world around them is treating them and how they treat they world, which is done well but not at all convincing.
The film’s writer and director have given a lot of thought and effort to how the film was shot, the lightening and the tone is constantly switching to fit to the storyline and the characters, and for a low budget film, it does it very well, it’s a film that could not have been better for what it is, is does exactly what it wants to and uses audience knowledge of what a typical horror films does; the scare, run, scare, run, investigate, scare and the ending. Parts of it feel straight of a music video, when the dream sequence occur and the teenage angst moments for the main characters which aren’t about the horror, look ready to have music over it and put on MTV, but still it does work within the story.
Parts of Dark Summer are enjoyable, it’s just the characters you are meant to like and route for fell flat, you can’t understand why all the teenagers are the way they are, even at the end when relatively most of it is revealed you really don’t know what you feel for them, did they deserve it or are you really that bothered? It’s not a film that could be watched again within a short period of time, once you find out about what is actually going on, the big reveal, the surprise is never going to be the again. Because this is a film that wants to use various forms of cultural horror and different cultural supernatural horror, there is a lot of jumping and pushing together to make it work for the end story of what is happening, which not confusing, is long winded.
Paul Solet, the director, is very good at making the film atmospheric and doing what little he has to create a decent horror, it does try to be more psychological horror than horror but still works, Solet, was definitely given a chance to make a modern horror film that isn’t bog standard, which he did but within 3-5 years this film will not be remembered, it dates and pins itself too much and doesn’t allow itself to be explainable to certain things within the storyline.
Watchable, for a low budget film, done very well but doesn’t bring much forward in terms of horror or scares to have you wondering or worried about cyber stalking or creepy teenagers and what they get up in their rooms, both male and female.

3 Stars



Antonia McGuire