REVIEW: Summer People (2008) Reviewed by Bryan Schuessler
For fans of the supernatural and low-budget independent horror, Summer People is a film worth giving some of your time to, for it may just surprise you. The story of a group of four friends that go up to their family’s cabin for some fun and relaxation, a fairly common way to begin their weekend’s start, but then things go awry when they begin to dabble in the dark arts and ritual magic to summon a spirit or demon of sorts that has other things planned for them. The young adults don’t know that it is the townspeople’s duty to protect their spirits.
The film was definitely film on a shoestring budget, and at times, completely showed that. I think that what put this film in the category of fair low-budget horror that kept me attentive instead of the tossing it into the microwave to nuke it and watch the sparks fly was the fact that the acting was not atrocious. The dialogue and script kept the film moving along and not at a dreadfully slow and tedious pace. The film did not have tons of blood, gore and nudity- three things which I adore in films, especially if they are lacking in the budget and mind-blowing special effects department- but the film had a fairly interesting amount of interaction between cast members and the script was fairly competent and did not suck.
I found that the director, Scott Feinblatt, gave his characters some depth, building up their profiles with enough footage so that you gave a damn whether they were in danger or safe, lived or died, went off into the woods never coming or were safe sitting at home. I also appreciated the small amount of scenes that had some nudity in it, tastefully done and enough to whet one’s appetite for some skin. Feinblatt not only directed Summer People, but he is responsible for the writing, editing, producing, original music, and special effects. The man had his hands full during the film and it turned out decent. Aside from the special effects not winning me over, I did think the original music worked out nicely in the film and added some suspense at the appropriate times and flowed with the whole style of the film.
In reading some comments given by the director, Scott Feinblatt, it was told (from the Production Notes) that the following ocurred:
“During a shot in which the psychic character Simone (played by Kelsey Scheider) hears the ominous warning cry of entities from beyond, an anomaly occurred. Neither the director, nor the sound crew was able to determine the source or the nature of the sound which was actually recorded at that precise moment”
Hmmmm…some food for thought. Whether this is a publicity stunt to garner interest in the film, or did this really happen one can’t say for sure, but it none-the-less is quite interesting. Maybe it was dark forces and spirits messing with the cast and crew of Summer People??!!
The only downside to this film was that some of the special effects were done on the computer and they looked pretty generic and really stood out and did not add to the movie in a positive manner. On the plus side, Summer People did have some cute actresses (Lisa played by Nyssa Zeona and Simone played by Kelsey Scheider) and having eye-candy on the screen always helps to boost a film’s popularity.
I think that the reason the characters worked out so well was that the dialogue written for them was written in a way that people speak everyday. It was very natural and there were some lines that I chuckled out-loud, which I rarely do, and I appreciated that. I really felt that the performances given by Neil Kubath (Tom), Nyssa Zeona (Lisa) and Kelsey Scheider (Simone) really carried the film.
Although, I can’t say that I was too thrilled to watch another film that involved kids/young adults heading up to a cabin in the woods for some fun and then finding out evil forces are at work- this scenario has been done over and over again. The only saving grace is that they decided to have an evil spirit messing with everyone instead of a psychopath running around with knives and axes.
I recommend this film for those that want to give a tiny production a chance to entertain one for about 67 minutes, this may be your film. I really look forward to seeing what Feinblatt can do with other films, maybe ones that have a bit more money to put into the productions. Scott Feinblatt’s previous production was a short film entitled The Scratch (2005), so I hope his films continue to grow in quality and creativity as he makes more and more films.