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Indie Movie Review – Final Summer

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Last year there was a meme doing the rounds about Top Gun being top of the box office figures, Kate Bush being top of the charts, America and Russia were facing off in another cold war, and inflation was going through the roof. The punchline was along the lines of finding ourselves back in the Eighties. Personally speaking, I quite enjoyed the Eighties. I was in my mid twenties at the start. Still slim, still fit, still to have to start worrying about mortgages and house upkeep, etc. Life was, for me, quite good. Last year was all good but in different ways; happily married, wonderful grandchildren, mortgage paid off, and blissfully retired…well, apart from writing all this nonsense for RunPee. 

But I enjoy doing this so it doesn’t count. I also enjoy being sent films to watch and pontificate about. Honestly, I’d be lying if I said it was work!  But one other thing from the Eighties which is being served up again is something that I wasn’t a particular fan of…the teen slasher movie. To be honest, and I’ve said it many times before, horror films and particularly gore laden ones are not my favourites. Still, maybe my relative avoidance of the sub-genre might enable me to watch Final Summer with moderately fresh eyes. I can’t claim to have never seen any of them, but I’m most definitely not a hard core fan so don’t be expecting me to be making comparisons with A Nightmare On Halloween The 13th or suchlike. 

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Movies Don’t Create Psychos

Final Summer starts off around a campfire at Camp Silverlake Winter Retreat on 15th March 1986. So, if nothing else, it’ll find a place in our Ides of March round up! As is, apparently, traditional around American campfires, someone is telling a scary story. I say “apparently” because the only campfire scenarios I’ve ever been party to have been in American films. Almost as though the director (John Isberg, who also wrote, produced, shot, and edited) was worried that we might get bored, the first killing happens within five minutes and the second is not long after. Then we have a jump of five years to 16th August 1991 which is the final day of summer camp at Camp Silverlake, IL.

My take from that was that the camp was being closed down early. The middle of August isn’t the end of summer, after all. Actually, I may be wrong here. Over in England and Wales the school holidays start in July and finish in September. However, the holidays run from June to mid-August in Scotland…but I digress. So, is the camp being closed down for financial or health and safety reasons? Judging by the heavy presence of law enforcement officers and the background chatter of police radios, I’m guessing they aren’t all there for a problem with the petty cash! The owner (Joi Hoffsommer) says how this camp is her father’s legacy and this “incident” won’t tarnish it. 

Movies Make Psychos More Creative

Five minutes later, though, and the camp will be in the hands of developers from the following Monday. Cue a weekend of packing stuff up and getting ready to leave. Oh…and being brutally murdered! And this is where I start to get out of my depth. Are these tropes or is this original? I’m guessing that there are certain elements which are needed; the final girl, the silent antagonist, a summer camp setting, etc. All of these are in place but the characters are also aware of their setting. There’s a scene when everyone goes into the woods to look for one of their number who has gone missing. Peter (Wyatt Taber) says “This whole thing just kind of feels like a horror movie. The whole let’s split up and search for the missing kid in the woods.”

His companion Lexi (Jenna Kohn) isn’t impressed so Peter tries to cheer her up with “It’s not like Jason’s going to pop up with his machete.” Ah, Peter, I remember when I was that awkward around women! Anyway, from now on I can’t say anything because of spoilers. I’ll just say that what follows is an eminently serviceable horror film. There are plenty of jumps, scares, and switches. It is very adept at leading you to sort out who will live, die, and, even, kill only to pull the rug from under you and turn it all around. It keeps you thinking to the end. Oh, and I do mean the very end. When you get the chance to see Final Summer, stay to the very end as there is a post credit scene which hints that this summer may not be the final one after all!

Final Summer is available on UK digital 18 September 2023 from Miracle Media Limited

Movie Review: B

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