“”Dark Summer” Isn’t The Season Horror Fans Are Waiting For (Though It’s Still Better Than “Ouija”).”
Watching Dark Summer you can tell that the filmmakers thought that they were onto something special, and I can understand why.
The movie has some beautiful cinematography and is shot and edited in a manner designed to heighten atmosphere and tension.
Keir Gilchrist plays Aaron, who when the movie begins is under house arrest for stalking a classmate. He receives moral support from his best friends, Kevin (Maestro Harrell) and Abby (Stella Maeve), who may be better than he deserves.
An already difficult situation is made worse when the girl he’s accused of stalking kills herself.
Stokes (Peter Stomare) has the job of ensuring that Aaron doesn’t leave his house and always wears his monitoring anklet.
Stomare is always awesome, though we don’t see much of him (and I get it. His was only a supporting role, though Peter Stomare so elevates everything he turns up in that it’s a shame that he didn’t get more screen time).
That being said, there are a few problems with Dark Summer that get in the way of it being the movie it could be.
One of which is that it isn’t particularly scary, which is odd because it’s pretty atmospheric. It’s also really well-acted. Typically actors sleepwalk through these types of movies, but everyone in this instance is really present. In fact the entire cast makes the situation feel realistic enough that despite being patently silly, you roll with it.
Dark Summer was written by Mike Le, and there are too many instances were the script shows through. For instance, there’s a scene where Aaron has to copy a mysterious sigil. He takes the route of doing so with paper and pencil, which wouldn’t be a bad idea if it weren’t for the fact that it was carved into his chest with a knife only days prior.
Sure, a cellphone picture could have served the same purpose, and made much more sense, but the script demanded that he draw it–it’s relevant later in the movie–so draw it he must.
As a ghost story, the movie is intriguing, till you see the ghost, and things begin to flatline, which sucks because what’s worse than a movie that isn’t cohesive enough to get your attention is one that initially is.
Though what’s worse is the seemingly mandatory plot twist (thanks, M. Night Shyamalan!) which manages to turn the victim into the aggressor. On the face of it, it sounds interesting, but also seems like a backdoor way of making light of something really serious (cyberbullying).
Dark Summer isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, though there’s so much potential that it just doesn’t live up to.
Dark Summer is on Netflix, though you’d be well served to remember that love. Sometimes. Hurts.