GORE IN THE STORE
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans
FINAL SUMMER **
Directed by John Isberg.
Starring Jenna Kohn, Carl Bailey, Bishop Stevens, Thom Mathews, Tom Atkins, Jessica Kadish,
Horror, US, 82 mins, 15.
Released in the UK on digital download by Miracle Media Limited on 18th September.
For those who enjoy the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise but have a bad memory and thus have completely forgotten what exactly happens in those films, the competently made but extremely derivative FINAL SUMMER might be for you.
This 1990s set slasher takes place during the aftermath of a tragedy involving a child at the rural Camp Silverlake when a group of camp counsellors find themselves slowly picked off by a masked killer. Sound familiar?
Director Isberg is a big fan of the FRIDAY THE 13TH series (one character mentions Jason Voorhees by name, another performs the iconic theme, someone wears a hockey mask, and FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES star Thom Mathews features in a small role). However, arguably, the main appeal of that series was the brutal and inventive kills and the gratuitous nudity, but FINAL SUMMER is mostly chaste and bloodless. Most of the kills take place off screen and are just variations of people getting hit with an axe. Only one, near the end of the film, feels particularly visceral due to the camera placement and accompanying sound effects. So, it’s a homage that fatally misunderstands what made the thing that it is aping successful in the first place.
It would have also been better to have given the killer more of a proper gimmick; his skull mask is striking, but there’s not much that stands out about him. The film takes itself quite seriously, apart from one amusing moment with a pool noodle, which also does it a disservice as it wouldn’t matter if the plot were unoriginal if it was having a bit more fun with the tropes.
Apart from a few shots seemingly not properly in focus, the film looks pretty good visually. There are some nicely framed and lit shots (particularly the scenic camp vistas during the opening credits), and overall, it looks fairly slick and professional, considering this is Isberg’s first movie and made on a low budget. The acting is also decent. For a cast of mostly young and unknown actors, including Jenna Kohn as the lead final girl, Lexi, they do a good job and never veer into annoying territory as their banter feels naturalistic rather than forced. There’s also a ridiculously creepy portrait of genre star Tom Atkins, who makes a cameo. Lastly, the retro synth score is strong, and there’s a stirring cover of the Pat Benatar song “Shadows of the Night” over the end credits.
Overall, when twelve FRIDAY THE 13TH films already exist and countless other knock offs, I don’t think FINAL SUMMER offers enough new to justify itself. It’s not objectively bad. It’s watchable and competently put together, but nothing here hasn’t been done better. However, the creative team have talent. Making a film isn’t easy, but I hope they put their skills into something more original next time.
Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans