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FILM REVIEW: Final Summer (2023)

Final Summer - New Release Review


Director: John Isberg

Starring: Jenna Kohn, Farbota Lynn, Seth Boyer, Charlie Bauer, Joi Hoffsommer, Thom Mathews


Written by: John Isberg

Produced by: Chad Olsen, Robert Patrick Stern, John Isberg

Cinematography by: John Isberg

Original Score by: Rostislav Vaynshtok


Synopsis:

In the aftermath of a tragedy at a summer camp, a group of camp counsellors find themselves fighting for their lives against a masked killer.



Thoughts:

I've often said over the years that nostalgia is the most powerful drug on the planet. John Isberg's debut feature film quickly becomes guilty of turning into a box-ticker slasher that leans a bit too much into nostalgia but if you're obsessed with 'Friday the 13th' then you might find something entertaining about this one too.



Jenna Kohn plays Lexi, a counsellor at Camp Silverlake who is grieving over Mason, a child who sadly died on a hike. She blames herself. His death happened on her watch as she feels that she should've done more to protect him. The vibe in the camp is obviously very low. But the last day of camp is fast approaching and according to stern faced camp owner Linnea Krug (Joi Hoffsommer) there's still work to be done.



We're introduced to the other camp counsellors as we get ready for the festivities that awaits us. The introductions are a bit lacklustre and there's not a lot of time spent with the characters to give us any real chance to define them. The group actually feels a bit too big for this type of slasher film. There's a very thin sub plot in which one of the male counsellors has the hots for Lexi and apparently everybody knows. We also get some brief flashbacks to an incident from Lexi's childhood.



One of the first glaringly obvious mistakes that the film makes is that the killer gets introduced to the group as whole way too early. What makes slashers so intriguing and engaging is that the killer takes the victims out one by one (or sometimes two by two) but it's a slow deletion that helps to create tension as the film progresses. There's little to none of that here at all. Whilst the killer looks pretty cool from a distance standing in the middle of the lowly lit campsite, he actually doesn't have an any real presence onscreen. It's all a bit generic. There's a half hearted attempt at a red herring early on that doesn't ever get mentioned again. At no point during the film was I questioning who the killer was. But even more sad and frustrating was that I didn't really care who the killer was.



The fight sequences are poor and the direction unfortunately feels rushed. I do understand that Isberg and company are working on a low budget here and as director of photography I appreciate his commitment to making the film look as well as it does. And some of the actors do put in impressive performances. Kohn as the "final girl" does just fine and Charlee Amacher as Georgia and Myles Valentine as Mario are both entertaining.



A lot of the film's misgivings could have been forgiven if the finale managed to be satisfactory, which it is not. One of the trope's that 'Final Summer' doesn't get right is the elaborate explanation behind why these killings are actually happening. I'm still trying to figure out just what the point was for all the deaths. I can't even say that any of the kills were memorable or would be gratifying to those in need of blood and guts.



The homages in 'Final Summer' cut deep but sadly having a brief appearance from slasher legend Thom Mathews and horror legend Tom Atkins (as a painting on the wall) is not enough to make the film be a killer fun time.


Verdict: ⭐️⭐️


- Gavin Logan


'Final Summer' is released on UK Digital September 18th

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