December 30, 2014 Dark Summer (Movie Review)
IFC Midnight is a solid contender in the Horror movie genre, and the forthcoming release of Dark Summer on January 9th, 2015 confirms they continue to be so. Written by Mike Le (Roll Models 2013, K-Town 2013) and directed by Paul Solet (Grace 2009, Fangoria: Blood Drive II 2005), Dark Summer focuses on a young man named Daniel, played by Keir Gilchrist (Dead Silence 2007, The United States of Tara 2009-2011), who, due to cyber stalking a fellow student named Mona, played by Grace Phipps (The Vampire Diaries 2012-2013, Fright Night 2011), has been placed under house arrest with a tracking bracelet strapped to his ankle. Daniel is completely obsessed with Mona, and the only thing he was not ever able to hack into was her iCloud. His probation officer, Stokes, played by Peter Stormare (Fargo 1996, 22 The Big Lebowski 1998), will be keeping a close eye on Daniel, calling in at anytime without notice, and lays down the rules: no Internet of any kind, no social media, no friends, no minors, no drugs and no drinking. Daniel asks Stokes if it is true that a young kid once cut his leg off to escape the tracking device and fled to Mexico. Stokes just laughs it off but is concerned that Daniel may flee. Daniel’s father has been gone for some time and his mother is away from work, leaving Daniel predominately alone.
Daniel does not last longer than a day before he contacts his friends, Abby, played by Stella Maeve (The Runaways 2010, Chicago P.D. 2014) and Kevin, played by Maestro Harrell (Suburgatory 2014, Ali 2001), who bring him an undetectable iPad and some weed. Abby and Kevin have never understood Daniel’s complete obsession with Mona, who was not particularly beautiful or popular. Daniel starts climbing the walls fairly quickly. Typical with today’s younger generation, he relies heavily on the Internet and technology to keep him occupied. Even playing his X-Box does not keep him busy for long. But strange things begin to happen as soon as Daniel connects back into the Internet via the iPad. Oddly, Mona calls Daniel, starts speaking quite strangely then blows her brains out. Daniel is in an awkward position as he is not meant to be on the Internet, so he calls in her death anonymously, which leads to the police to finding her body. Stokes suspects that it was Daniel, and tries to convince him to confess, and talk about the horrible things he saw, but Daniel does not.
Once Mona dies, Daniel adds terrifying nightmares to the strange events that are taking place around him. The dreams start mixing with reality and Daniel becomes convinced that Mona is haunting him, paying him back for stalking her. Abby and Kevin believe that it is the stress and medication unravelling Daniel’s mind, but after they look into things a little, they realise Daniel could be right. The friends use the Internet to research hauntings and what they can do about them. They hold a seance, and what happens after that is a living nightmare. It seems that the friends have bitten off more than they can chew, at least until they come across a way that they can stop Mona. Or can they? Abby discovers there was much more to Mona than meets the eye, and they began a deadly game of cat and mouse. What if Daniel has missed a sign of something that could be fatal, something he could not see coming, or someone who could help him?
Dark Summer is just as its name suggests. It is dark, but it is also moody, intense and suspenseful. While initially it seems slow to get going, once things start happening, they do not let up. There is plenty of action, horror and gore. While at the very beginning it seems a lot like the 2007 movie Disturbia starring Shia LeBouf, and in fact even references said film, that ends up being the only similarity and the movie quickly comes into its own. Flawed characters are exceptionally acted by a small cast with a totally surprise ending. Dark Summer is a must watch for all horror fans. A clever film with an original story line and great special effects. CrypticRock scores Dark Summer 5 out of 5 stars.