Dark Summer’s cagey sense of plot initially suggests that the Paul Solet film is edging toward an epiphany. Daniel (Keir Gilchrist) is under house arrest for reasons that, revealed in frustrating trickles of backstory whenever his friends Abby (Stella Maeve) and Kevin (Maestro Harrell) pay him a cloyingly self-serious visit, have to do with his cyber-stalking of a classmate, Mona (Grace Phipps). Enough fuss is made of the rail-thin teen’s mother being away on business and a police officer (Peter Stormare) keeping such antagonistic watch of his ankle monitor as to suggest that Daniel’s indiscretions were far more insidious than they initially seem. They are, but where a ballsier film, such as Zachary Donohue’s The Den, might have tapped into how desire is mediated by technology, Dark Summer reveals itself to be interested in the navel-gazing Daniel’s preferred mode of communication, even after he hops back online and flirts with reconnecting with Mona, only insofar as it absolves him of guilt. After a shocking suicide, the tables are risibly turned on the aggressor-victim dynamic and the film proceeds as the most programmatic of ghost stories. Solet frames one bloody assault on Daniel’s sanity as he swims in his backyard pool with an elegance that’s jarring, but by and large, the cacophony of visions, broken mirrors, and mutilations that characters and audience alike are subjected to only points to the ghost in the machine respecting The Craft as its spirit animal.
- IFC Midnight
- 81 min
- Paul Solet
- Mike Le
- Keir Gilchrist, Stella Maeve, Maestro Harrell, Grace Phipps, Peter Stormare
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