Summer’s Moon (2009)

Starring Ashley Greene, best known for her popular role in the tween-oriented vamp-centric Twilight movies, Summer’s Moon has used every cheap trick in the book to garner some much needed publicity off the back of that franchises success, from making the front cover look like that of a vampire movie to declaring its vague affiliation all over the DVD. It’s telling that even the title was changed from Summer’s Blood (which would have made far more sense in context) to the more palatable Summer’s Moon to appease the fang-obsessed kiddies that are bound to watch this as a result of a misleading marketing campaign. It’s a shame really as Summer’s Moon is actually a pretty decent psychological thriller in its own right and if anything, is marred by its association to a film that it shares nothing in common with besides its leading lady.

Summer, who hates her home life, decides to leave town one day and go in search of her absent Father whom she has never met. Along the way she lands herself in hot water with a local law enforcement officer but is assisted by a charming and handsome local named Tom. Now, Summer is a savvy young lady who carries a gun for protection and has a smart mouth but unfortunately she finds herself in the company of the one guy she really didn’t want to meet. After they share a brief liaison, Summer attempts to leave but she is instead knocked unconscious and wakes to find herself the newest addition to Tom’s gruesome ‘human garden’; a basement in which he binds and then cultivates his ‘flowers’. As time wears on Toms family prove to be just as mentally unstable and every bit as dangerous as he is. Will Summer accept her fate or practise deception in order to secure her escape?

Summer’s Moon is not an original movie, we’ve seen the ‘psycho family’ storytelling technique used many times before so the subject matter is nothing new. It does however manage to be entertaining and gripping throughout despite a rather banal premise and there are enough twists and turns to make it a compelling watch.

There is very little gore to satiate the bloodlust of the average horror fanatic here so on that level it might well disappoint but this is a movie that is very much driven by dialogue and tension so to overdo the gore effects would be to detract from the story. The truly shocking thing about Summer’s Moon is its characters and the bizarre and unnatural ways in which they behave, not the visceral crimes they commit, which are largely performed off-screen anyway.

The acting is credible for the most part but Steven McHattie is criminally underused as the family’s psychopathic patriarch. He is, by far, the most brutal and sociopathic character and thus the most interesting of the bunch but he doesn’t appear until the movies final third and there isn’t nearly enough exploration of his strange and violent idiosyncrasies to validate his presence.

One major drawback of the movie and an important factor in its credibility is its protagonist. Summer is shown to be such a manipulative and uncaring brat that it’s very difficult to muster any sympathy for her. A brief flashback showing an abusive Mother and a crappy home life regrettably do little to dissipate the feeling of distaste towards her and as such there is no-one for the audience to connect or empathise with. I think this is largely due to the scripting of her character and less to do with Greene’s performance though.

On the whole Summer’s Moon is a fairly well crafted little thriller, it’s well-paced, well-scripted and the characters are intriguing enough to hold the viewers attention. It’s worth a watch but it probably isn’t a movie that you’ll feel inclined to want to revisit again and again. It’s a World away from Demarbre‘s previous effort Smash Cut and goes some way to suggesting that he might just be a director to keep your eyes on.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

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