Dark Summer (Blu-Ray) : Release Year - 2015

Overall Rating : 5.5/10

Directed By : Paul Solet

Grace Phipps (Fright Night (2011) )
Peter Stormare (The Big Lebowski)
Keir Gilchrist (It Follows)
Stella Maeve (The Runaways)

Supplied By : Scream! Factory/IFC Midnight

Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock

Date Reviewed : June. 14, 2015


This truly frightening, modern ghost story follows Daniel Williamson (Keir Gilchrist of It Follows, United States Of Tara and Dead Silence), a 17-year-old boy under house arrest for cyber-stalking a classmate. With his mother away on business, obsessive Daniel flirts with the idea of reconnecting with the classmate, Mona (Grace Phipps of Fright Night). But fate has different ideas for him when Mona is driven to desperate measures and Daniel discovers that someone – or something – is now stalking him. With the tables turned, Daniel becomes trapped in a house he cannot leave… with a malicious presence he can't escape.
The film DARK SUMMER, finds teenager Daniel Austin, whom has been put on house arrest. His crime? The cyber-stalking of fellow classmate, Mona Wilson. His case, which is being overseen by his Parole Officer, Stokes, reads like this: beyond leaving his house, he is not allowed electronics, alcohol, or visitation of any kind, from his friends. But of course, it only takes him seconds to break almost every rule that he has been given. With the help of friends Abby and Kevin, it doesn't take long before Daniel has a stolen tablet in his hands. He has told the two of them, that he needs the device to Skype his mother, who is away on business. However, that is not so true. Because eventually, Daniel is able to hobble together a makeshift computer, and he is back, attempting to hack into Mona's Cloud account - which has become his latest obsession, when it comes to the girl. But in a surprising turn of events, shortly after connecting to the net, he receives a live feed, Skype link from, Mona, which is mysterious in itself. But it is what follows, that is even more strange. Mona appears on screen, and after a few words, declares that Daniel, will, "feel what she feels", right before committing suicide. Drowning in guilt for the event, Daniel is shaken to his core. Following the suicide, strange occurrences begin to occur within the claustrophobic confines of the house. Occurrences of the supernatural kind. After some time, it eventually becomes clear to Daniel that there might be more to this than it would seem. And unfortunately, he'd be right. Because, although Mona's physical self may now be gone, her spirit is very much alive, and now surrounds Daniel. In a classic display of the "hunter becoming the hunted", Mona, now haunts her stalker, and it would seem that she's out to get revenge, via a number of manipulations. In the end, Daniel must convince both Abby and Kevin, that what is going on is real, and together, they must work to uncover the mystery surrounding Mona's suicide. And what they find is something more dark, and more twisted than they could have ever expected. With a vicious plan, now steadily set in motion, there seems to be no way to stop Mona Wilson from getting what she most desires.

In 2009, Director Paul Solet came at us with his highly impressive debut film, GRACE. The film starred CABIN FEVER alum, Jordan Ladd, as a woman who longed for motherhood. She got the baby that she so desired, however it was a strange one, indeed. For it feast on flesh and blood. With this film, Solet makes his return, with something a little different, a "ghost story" of sorts, infused with the element of the supernatural.And while the content may be different, both Solet and Director of Photographer, Zoran Popovic , bring to DARK SUMMER, the same sense of style that they employed on GRACE.

From a script written by Mike Le, DARK SUMMER paints a realistic picture of what it may be like for a teen facing house arrest for a crime in the digital age, only it takes it a step forward, adding in the fantasy elements of the unexplained. The initial part of the film will most likely remind almost everyone who sees this film of a similar film, starring Shia LeBeouf. Yes, that film would be DISTURBIA. However, it seems as if Mike Le was one step ahead when he had the characters call out the film by name, just minutes in. Clever move. The initial portion of the film seems to rely too much, however on the fact that the film's lead character Daniel, is in fact, on house arrest. Aside from the little hints here and there about the cyber crimes that he may or may not have committed(because we never know exactly, what those crimes are), which are aided by actions which appear to implicate him ever further, that is what it rests on. As Daniel seems to dwell on sub-consciously, the film slow drags on. But fortunately, the good thing is, that eventually, the film does take off, leading to a few key moments, resulting in a film that ends on a very good note. The last half of the film is great, and is superbly written, and acted out by the cast. Just when you think that DARK SUMMER will end up being the typical teenage Horror fare, the film goes in directions that the viewer does not expect. While during the film's first half, the film pretty much goes out of it's way to make Daniel the cyber stalking creep that he is accused of being. In fact, I believe that in the film, Daniel even calls himself a "creep", at one point, as he pretty much comes to believe it himself. However later in the film, it is revealed that all, might not be as it sees. The way which the script performs this sort of unseen twist, is really nicely done. And while, i'd like to say that I saw it coming, I truly didn't. This came as a really clever surprise. It it is a late plot development, that truly does turn everything on it's head. So kind of like saying "don't judge a book by its cover", so to speak, Daniel Austin, may or may not be such a bad guy after all. Regarding this, i'll leave it at that, because it it would be best to find out for yourself. Because, it is arguably the best thing about the film's plot.

For a film that is very slow in parts, I am really surprised that DARK SUMMER plays out as well as it does. The film looks great, and is well acted(especially when it comes to the young cast; Kier Gilchrist(Daniel), Grace Phipps("Mona"), Stella Maeve("Abby"), and Maestro Harrell("Kevin") ) however, it is, a mostly uneven effort, there is no way around that. I loved the look, and the atmosphere, and the film's cast, which includes Peter Stormare, as Detective Stokes, who are all enjoyable here. But it is all of the film's slower, more duller times, that really drag the film down, in terms of one's total enjoyment. The film definitely does have its great moments, but one must do a little waiting to arrive to them. Which, unfortunately, might be an undesired task for the more casual of Horror viewers. The Blu-Ray release looks great both visually, as well as in audio. This joint release from SHOUT! FACTORY/IFC MIDNIGHT offers up a number of featurettes, which details the making of the different aspects of DARK SUMMER.

Some details about these featurettes are as follows:

"Director Paul Solet featurette" (2m 15s) - The cast and crew talk about working with the film's Director Paul Solet.

"A Conversation with Peter Stormare" (15m 52s) - In this featurette, the actor takes about working with the Director Paul Solet, and the young cast(especial the film's star Kier Gilchrist), and also yodeling.

"The Kids - Cast Interviews" (2m 4s) - As the title says, this features interviews with the young cast of DARK SUMMER.

"Atmosphere and Style" (15m 7s) - Features a look at the style of the film, with Director Paul Solet, and Cinematographer Zoran Popovic.

"The Art of DARK SUMMER" (13m 38s) - A featurette on the film's set design and wardrobe featuring, Zoran Popovic, the film's Cinematographer, Ariana Nakata, the film's Production Designer and Chantal Filson, the film's Costume Designer.

"The Music of DARK SUMMER" (8m 37s) - An interview with the film's Composer, Austin Wintory, detailing how the film's score came about.
3/10 There isn't a lot of gore, aside from things such as; an extracted heart, a gunshot wound and a stab wound. The film mostly relies on imagery, which is great.
6/10 The film features a rather eerie score that really adds to the film's overall atmosphere.
Overall, DARK SUMMER is a decent enough film, once it gets over the hurdles of its beginnings. But the film as a whole, isn't always consistent. The film's later developments save the day here, but it takes some time and patience to get to the things that the film offers, that are the most worthwhile.

Special Features include :

- Audio Commentary With Director Paul Solet
- Atmosphere And Style Featurette
- Director Paul Solet Featurette
- The Art Of Dark Summer Featurette
- The Music Of Dark Summer Featurette
- A Conversation With Peter Stormare Featurette
- The Kids - Cast Interviews
- Theatrical Trailer


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