Dark Summer (2015)
“Some crushes last forever”
Dark Summer (2015)
Director: Paul Solet
Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Stella Maeve, Maestro Harrell
Synopsis: A 17-year-old is on house arrest for the summer while his mother is away on business. A horrifying incident occurs leaving an ominous presence in the house.
The friends of 18-year-old Daniel (Kier Gilchrist) are understandably confused over why their geeky friend suddenly developed a fixation on loner classmate Mona (Grace Phipps) which prompted him to hack into all her social media accounts. Kevin (Maestro Harrell) can’t understand why he didn’t select a better-looking subject to stalk, while the mournful-looking Abby (Stella Maeve) nurses a secret love for Daniel which prevents her from believing anything bad about him. To be honest, it’s easier to believe that skinny, socially awkward Daniel would develop an unhealthy obsession with a classmate he lacks the nerve to approach than that a reasonably hot girl like Abby would have a crush on him. Anyway, even Daniel can’t satisfactorily explain why he stalked Mona, but his actions have resulted in house arrest under the supervision of a battered-looking police officer named Stokes (Peter Stormare – The Big Lebowski) while his mother is away on business.
He’s confined to the house (like Shia LeBeouf, says Abby) with an ankle monitor strapped to his leg, and strict instructions from Stokes not to access the internet or permit minors into his home. So, of course, it’s not long before he’s surfing the ‘net and inviting his two friends over. However, his masked internet connection offers his stalking victim an opportunity to make contact – and then to commit suicide while he watches. Having to sit through that would be bad enough, but Daniel then slowly comes to realise that Mona is haunting him…
Paul Solet’s moody little film is long on atmosphere and short on plot, but does have, at its core, a neat idea. The director, too, has some cool ideas, but the slightness of the plot sees him resort to shamelessly padding out Dark Summer’s running time with a camera that sometimes seems to be panning through treacle, and shots that last forever but go nowhere. I mean, do we really need a 75-second – yeah, I was sad enough to rewind and time it – shot in which we slowly follow the back of Daniel’s head as he wanders onto the front lawn to gaze at a lamppost? In addition, Mike Le’s screenplay is liable to leave much of Dark Summer’s audience scratching their heads over a hurriedly revealed twist, and then compounds this misstep by finishing with a big shock that’s a direct rip-off from a well-known Japanese horror flick, but with an unintentionally comical undertone.
(Reviewed 13th October 2015)