Daniel (Keir Gilchrist) is the perpetrator, having invaded the privacy of his classmate – and obsession – Mona Wilson (Grace Phipps). Under the watchful eye of officer Stokes (Peter Stormare), Daniel is not allowed to be granted any internet access, or to leave his mother’s house during a summer while she is away. However he breaks the rules and decides to go on Skype – only to witness Mona committing suicide on webcam. Needing the support of his two closest friends Abby (Stella Maeve) and Kevin (Maestro Harrell), Daniel starts to freak out when he believes the ghost of his crush is coming back to haunt him.
There is no denying how disquieting and uncomfortable a cinematic experience Dark Summer can be, with an eeriness that is evoked in a very deliberate manner, as Solet lingers the camera over shots of broken glass, and cut fingers – with blood slowly dripping out of the wound. This enforces the harrowing elements to this picture, which is evidently inspired by the likes of Black Swan, in that regard. The ambiguity surrounding Daniel’s mental state is the most intriguing aspect – is he imagining all of this, fearing Mona’s vengeance given his guilt? Or is this supernatural force genuinely taking revenge? However Solet makes the error of revealing the answers to the aforementioned questions far too soon into proceedings, which then detracts from the suspense and intensity of the piece.
Nonetheless, for all of the supernatural themes on show, Dark Summer is grounded by very human themes, as at the core of this production is a young boy suffering from both grief and guilt. It’s a role that Gilchrist carries well, displaying a certain vulnerability and a vitally gaunt demeanour. Though for the talented young actor this project is not quite as accomplished, nor indelible than his other choice of horror movie this year, taking a starring role in David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows. Dark Summer is by no means a bad movie, but it’s barely in the same league.