Summer's Blood (Summer's Moon) Reviews
Good cast and crew make something out of a well worn plot line. You've been here before, the question is do you want to go here again since the material isn't anything special, even if the performances are very good. This is one of the increasing number of movies that are taking well worn ideas, spicing them up with a great cast and then getting a weak script. It ends up wasting everyones time.
Ashley Greene is not the sweet girl from Twilight, but a tough girl with a will to survive.
A young woman with a checkered past seeks out her father she has never met. She heads into a small town and meets an eccentric family of serial killers that captures and tortures her. Her adopted father that raised her begins looking for her but doesn't get much help because of her reputation. Can the step dad find the girl before the serial killers dispose of her?
"I swear, sometimes I wonder how I gave birth to a child this fucking stupid."
Lee Damarbre, director of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace, The Dead Sleep Easy, and Smash Cut, delivers Summer's Moon. The storyline for this picture is fairly average and a bit predictable. It did keep my attention long enough to want to know what happens, but not enough to separate itself in the genre.
"I didn't kill her. Don't say that ever again."
I grabbed this movie off Netflix the other night because the plot sounded interesting; unfortunately, this film plays out in a predictable and straightforward fashion. The acting is also fairly average and the cast includes Ashley Greene, Peter Mooney, Barbara Niven, Peter Michael Dillon, and Allison Graham. Overall, the film isn't a complete waste of time but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it either.
"I need you to keep me safe, okay?"
Summer travels to the small town of Massey, where she hopes to connect with her long lost father. After shoplifting in a convenience store where a cop is, the cop gives chase. Tom helps her escape the cop, and she goes home with him and has a one night stand. The next morning, though, Tom lets her know that she's not leaving. Tom's mother Gaia hits her over the head with a blunt object to drive the point home.
When Summer wakes up from the head blow, she's staked, all four limbs, to a gardening bed full of exposed soil. She's not alone; there's another captive woman not far away. One version of the title is "Summer's Blood," and we can guess the origin.
Darwin, Summer's putative father, gets out of jail, and comes looking for Summer. The Sheriff listens, but Summer has not left an impression that keeps his interest. He makes a few inquiries; Gaia is the first one whom he asks. Gaia tries to talk Tom into abandoning his 'gardening' and setting the girls free to avoid trouble with the law.
Tom does some reading, which he shares with Gaia. They set Summer free, but keep her in their orbit. Soon after, Gant Hoxey calls, and there are a series of revelations.
Then the emotional fireworks start. Who survives the gore fest?
Cinematography: 5/10 On the dark side for the interiors, with better than VHS quality, but not by much. The colour palettes were often ugly to the point of looking like 1970s video shown during late night. The exteriors, fewer in number, were better, but still had the low-budget look to them.
Sound: 5/10 For a Canadian film done in English, the actors seem to be lip-synching. Perhaps that's a Netflix problem, sound versus video. Music did not seem to be an asset.
Acting: 4/10 Peter Michael Hilton and Paul Whitney were just horrible. Even as little as ten hours practicing reading lines might have helped. On the other hand, veterans Stephen McHattie and Barbara Niven were very good. Peter Mooney and Ashley Greene were just all over the map, occasionally believable, usually terrible.
Screenplay: 2/10 The film is fairly open about incest, real or intended (Gaia and Tom, Tom and Summer, Gant and Summer), but does not seem to even try to capitalise on the shock value. The gardens did not make any sense. Was Tom just practicing protracted torture, or was there something to be gained from the plants? Referring to the original title, was blood actually involved there? What did the young women before Summer actually die from?
Director Lee Demarbre fashions a decidedly slow moving, atmospheric film, and mostly manages to pull it off. He employs simple tricks to keep us engaged, and uses some good cross cutting techniques to show how Tom is feeling at that moment. He and his DP get a nice look out of the house, making it seem real but not quite the whole time. He does stumble a bit though. The opening narration by Tom's father fails to set a mood, and is off putting, as we are at a loss as to who is speaking to whom, or who he's talking about. Some of the edits are a bit clumsy as well.
Greene, most well known for her role in the Twilight Saga series surprised me here, and I think she will do so to anyone only familiar with her from that dreck. While not the greatest performance ever, it's a strong one, for the kind of pseudo-serial killer, romance is pain movie that this is. Mooney, does a decent job, but I could imagine someone doing it better, and a few shifts in personality, which seem odd at first, but not by the end, aren't sold by him effectively.
As his mother, Barbara Niven has the most irriating role, seemingly doing things at the drop of a hat that make no real sense. She pulls it off, but the script leaves her hanging.
The script, while tossing around a solid amount of old school-ness, never quite is as convincing about the Hoxey family as it should be, making them seem little more than crazies, as opposed to full fledged characters. While it doesn't destroy the movie, it limits it. However, the script does do some surprising things, as in when, after their one night stand, Tom is preventing Summer from leaving the house. What does she do? Pulls out her gun (set up nicely earlier), and he steps aside. The mom then attacks. While it doesn't seem like much, in a lesser film, Tom would have tried to wrestle the gun away, or she wouldn't have even used it. So I was glad that the movie pays off it's little things, even if it can't quite keep the big picture in focus.
I must say this was not the best movie but I like it. Summer is looking for her dad that she had never met. In her search she meets a guy that ends up to be crazy. Then she finds out that her father is not really what she was expecting.
Ashely does a good job. The movie was a bit weird but I would recommend for others to check it out.