|Index||5 reviews in total|
A young horror critic named Charles (Simon Wallace) rollerskates into
his first day of summer school. In a series of events, he finds himself
facing off against a cult, spiders, vampires, hillbillies and more.
This is what happens when the stuff of film starts to creep into your
every day life (and believe me, if anyone knows about watching too many
horror films, it's me).
The cover of the DVD contains a quotation saying this film sets a new "sterling" standard for independent film. I have to agree with this assessment. "Summer School" is not the best independent horror film you'll ever see, but given their budget you should be impressed with the lengths they were able to go. Much of the filming is on a production value level of the professionals (I especially was moved by the 1970s feel of the hillbilly scene). And if you've seen some of the poor excuses for horror films I have, this one is breath of fresh air.
What comes across as the film's weakness is also its strength. Each segment is written and directed separately (despite the upkeep of continuity), something I was not aware of until the end credits. This has the drawback that some of the scenes are clearly better than others (the vampire and hillbilly scene were great, the cult and spider scenes not as much). But it gives you the advantage that not liking one may mean that only a few minutes later you'll become interested again.
Generally speaking, the film gets better as it goes. Now, that may be because I was drinking some quality Scotch, but I don't think so. As well as the hillbilly and vampire scenes, there's an amusing Nazi scene (where I believe the killer -- played by Ty Richardson -- says "O Tannenbaum" as a taunt). And towards the end, things really heat up. I won't talk about that because it may give things away, but believe me it gets harder and harder to discern what is real and what isn't. You'll be second and triple-guessing yourself.
The talent was varied. For much of the film, I found the main actor decent but nothing special (although he grew on me as the film increased in intensity). His two friends Steve and Dennis (Tony D. Czech and Lance Hendrickson) were on opposite ends of the acting spectrum -- one coming across as a poor man's Jack Black and the other fitting his bad boy image to a tee. And the main actress playing Lindsey (Amy Cocchiarella)... I liked her. She had a charisma about her, and if she continues to wear the types of outfit she had in the vampire segment, I'm pretty sure she could be a budding scream queen if she wished to be.
To my knowledge, this film has not yet been picked up for distribution, and that is a travesty. I encourage horror fans -- especially those who support and promote independent cinema -- to obtain a copy of this film, which I believe you can do through the Random Creatureface website. Plenty of distributors exist and there's no reason this film cannot be picked up if it gets a good buzz. (See, for example, the film "Livelihood" which recently acquired distribution after a long and hard-fought online buzz campaign.)
I just finished watching Summer School, and well, I enjoyed it.
Surprisingly enjoyable. I enter into independent low budget films like
this with as open of a mind as I can have. Typically I am still let way
down, but not this time.
This isn't so much a movie, as a series of short stories involving the same characters coupled together with a simple basic storyline.
The basis is a teen shows up for summer school after having spent a long night researching horror films. He arrives to school early and while he is waiting alone for class to start...he falls asleep. The following is a series of horrific nightmare's where himself and his classmates, teachers, and school security are reoccurring characters.
Each story proves itself to be quite original, they all had an element of horror, suspense, and mystery. I could not tell what was going to happen next due to the pacing and randomness of this film and I'll admit, I enjoyed not knowing what was going to happen next for once.
Each story builds in suspense and you find yourself wondering, even hoping, for the climax to happen. You actually want a happy story to happen after constant shocking endings to each story. I won't say how it ends, but it is a definite surprise.
I felt the acting was adequate to impressive, the leading character and his two friends filled out their roles very well in each case. The female character I felt was very poorly acted for the most part, and very unattractive. I kind of wanted her character to die when she was on screen. The camera work is inventive and fun to follow. The budget and special effects though sparing are very well used. I knew I was watching a low-budget movie, but at no time did it feel cheesy or hokey.
Overall I recommend this film, I give it a 5 because it's not a top-notch cinema thriller, but for an indie film it is exceptional. I think those involved were pretty talented and I enjoyed the story line overall. I'd say pick it up for a watch if you can.
Forced to stay at school during the summer, a student finds himself
constantly living out horrific nightmares only to appear back in class
each time as though nothing happened, and tries to find a way of ending
This was pretty hard to get a handle on, as it's not until the very end that you realize that this is just a never-ending series of nightmares, where waking up in one puts you square in the middle of the next one. This presents some problems in the fact that there's just not a lot beyond this premise to make the film interesting and you have to rely on the creepiness of the dreams to really gather any kind of satisfaction out of the film. Granted, some of the dream segments do get pretty interesting, especially a sequence where he thinks the different attendees with him are part of a cult or a later one where the faculty is really a coven of vampires looking for easy prey and forcing him to slay them, but the brevity and the constant knowing that it's all a dream makes it really hard to get into what's going on. A novel idea and much more ingenious than a normal anthology film, but it's design gives it it's own undoing and really doesn't get much more than just above mediocre.
Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Charlie(Simon Wallace) is in quite a predicament. He seems to be
repeatedly waking up in nightmare scenarios involving his fellow high
school students while having to attend summer school for misbehavior.
Each nightmare normally ends with poor Charlie about to die. Whether he
is to be a human sacrifice at the hands of a Satan worshiping cult,
running from giant spiders, avoiding Nazi assassins, attempting to
escape vampires, or contending with a loathsome dirty perverted
hick(just after hunting some deer; and he has some brothers), Charlie
is always in peril..and, he's the central figure in everything that
happens(most of the time, he's also the hero who never seems able to
fulfill such a demanding role without tragedy). All of this happens in
or outside the school.
Kind of interesting experiment, it's established early on that Charlie is a horror fan who writes reviews for his website and this film seems to reflect his psyche coming apart at the seams..he's been watching way too many horror movies and now Charlie(or as his friends often refer to him as "Upchuck")is paying the price. I personally liked the idea of the horror movie set inside the school, and when Charlie exits the building, in turn, running afoul of rednecks, I think it shows that he is perhaps trapped..he can not stay in the school or leave it without coming across some sort of threat. And, there's this fascinating point in the movie regarding a "reversal of roles" where Charlie himself "becomes the antagonist". My personal favorite of the mini-tales(directed and written by numerous people)is "Nazi" mainly because there are these cool camera shots of Charlie and his pal Dennis(Lance Hendrickson) hiding behind walls as an ominous figure moves about further down the school halls. "Nazi" also features kids being gunned down, an eye gouged out with a knife, and Charlie rendered helpless after multiple gunshot wounds cripple him. I felt the rednecks tale is a little out of place with the rest of the movie because everything had a sort of rhythm to it as it pertains to the inside of the school..I think what worked in my mind was the frightening idea that no matter how hard he tried, Charlie seemed caught in a limbo inside the school, it was his prison. Amy Cocchiarella is Lindsey, the girl who often winds up in Charlie's nightmares mainly because, I figure, she's his fantasy chick..in most of the tales, she's either in need of saving or someone who leads Charlie to his doom. Ultimately, what I always think works in favor of these types of films is the idea that you never know when Charlie might actually wake up for real and what the consequences might be.
This could have been a really great film, the story had such potential.
The overall plot seemed a little repetitive in the beginning but by the
end, I was thoroughly engaged. And when I thought I knew the ending, it
was something else. The individual stories were, for the most part,
But, alas, there was a downfall. Or two. And they came in the form of the special effects and the acting. The effects were so incredibly cheesy. And don't get me wrong. I enjoy B-movie effects as much as the next guy, but these were just bad. For example towards the end of the film, the main character stabs his friend with a simple pocketknife, probably no more than 2 or 3 inches. And his half of his intestines some how fall out. The acting wasn't awful but it wasn't great either. There were moments when it was fairly believable and times when it was, just, strange.
In the end, this movie had the potential be an excellent film. But it ended up just being another B-movie.
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