Dark Summer movie full length review - Good Original Story for a Straight-to-Streaming Movie
Realistic expectations are important. You can't expect a fine dining experience at a fast food place. You can't expect an overnight stay in a small town to be as stimulating as a week in Greece.
And you can't expect a straight-to-streaming movie made by relative unknowns to crack your list of all-time favorite movies.
With the proper perspective, however, this movie isn't bad. In fact, I'd say it's better than most of the scores of straight-to-streaming movies I see each month.
The actors were watchable, the direction was excellent and the story was just a little more interesting than that of the average teen psycho horror tripe.
It's like Disturbia. Or perhaps I should say you might be led to believe it should be like Disturbia, but completely different. One way is how it starts out. If you'll recall, in Disturbia we got to see the accident that killed the protagonist's father and the incident that set him off. In Dark Summer we pick up a story that already seems to be in progress and we discover the back-story in pieces so that initially we won't have any sympathy or understanding for our protagonist. The emotional connection comes later.
The pacing is leisurely and the atmosphere is dark. On the surface it's about a young man is under house-arrest so the movie gives you a sense of his boredom and isolation.
The script, however, is taut. There are only five characters. Actually more like four and half or four and an asterisk.
Without giving away any surprises, let me just say two commendable things about the story: the relationship between the protagonist and his obsession gets interesting; and fifteen minutes into most movies I can usually tell you how it's going to end, but this one surprised me. I thought for sure the mystery would have one particular solution. It didn't.
I really liked Stella Maeve's Abby character and Peter Stormare's Stokes character was just enigmatic enough to be interesting. The Mona Wilson character was, I assume, intentionally ambiguous and Keir Gilchrist played a plausibly sympathetic but not too sympathetic antihero.
The only character that really disappointed me was Kevin, played by Maestro Harrell. He played it well, but outside of one intelligent repartee with the protagonist, you almost wonder what he was there for other than to be the obligatory token black friend. Having accomplished so much and with such attention to detail, you'd think the scriptwriters and film makers would've tried a little harder to make this character more than just a cliché. But here again, you can't expect too much from a straight-to-streaming teen psycho horror movie.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. I think most viewers will be too, unless they're expecting to be blown away.