Daniel Austin’s (Keir Gilchrist) obsessive online stalking of his classmate and crush, Mona Wilson (Grace Phipps), leads to his house arrest for the whole summer. Daniel is a modern technology obsessed teenager. So now he will spend his summer vacation with no cell phone, no Internet, no access to the world beyond his property, and, perhaps most devastating of all, no Mona.
DARK SUMMER combines elements of films that have come before it but presents them in a way that gives us something new and completely original. Yes, this is a genre film but much like Paul Solet’s first film GRACE this is a shocking film that puts character and performance first.
As an adult, it’s easy to dismiss teenagers. We often forget the depth of emotion that we felt during this time in our lives. When you feel the loss of love for the first time it feels like it will never end. When you feel isolation or loneliness it feels like you are in solitary confinement. This is mostly because you are feeling these things for the first time; you don’t have the emotional scars that help you through. As adults we are psychologically callused and have been kicked around enough to know that heart ache and rejection pass. We shouldn’t look down on our former selves for feelings things so purely; in fact on some level we should aspire to be that raw. DARK SUMMER never looks down on its characters; in fact it reminds a cynical jerk like me to listen to my son when he enters this phase of his life and not be dismissive.
This is a deliberately paced and at times quiet film that slowly reveals itself as the tension builds to the eventual cacophony of the third act. While this film is scary and creepy as hell it would have completely fallen apart if not for the outstanding performances by this young cast. Stella Maeve and Keir Gilchrist are actors to keep on your radar. Trust me, they are the real deal.
I’m intentionally being vague about anything past the first act of this film. It takes several turns and even knowing the specific genres that it’s playing with is a bit too much of a spoiler for my taste. Yes, this is a horror film playing with the REAR WINDOW template. But unlike DISTURBIA this is an original take on that idea and, more importantly, it’s actually good. I was a huge fan of Solet’s film GRACE, and fans of that film should definitely give this one a shot.On Jan 9th, DARK SUMMER will be available in NY theatres and on VOD. Then on Jan. 23rd, the film expands to L.A. theatres.