Final Summer Image

Final Summer

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | November 3, 2022

Friday the 13th fanciers will have a field day with writer/director John Isberg’s killer retro flick Final Summer. In 1986, counselors at Camp Silverlake are scaring themselves silly around the campfire. A tale is told about a camp worker who died in a fire and now haunts the woods as a skeleton with an axe. To scare everyone at the end, a skull mask is used. Minutes later, someone is murdered, and the killer puts on the skull mask, disappearing back into the forest. 

Flash forward to 1991 on the last day of camp. Counselor Lexi (Jenna Kohn) is still deeply traumatized by a terrible accident this summer where a young boy died on a hiking trip. Her sorrows partially stem from horrible events in her past. Peter (Wyatt Taber) has had a crush on Lexi all summer but is worried he might spoil their friendship. This latent romance between the two is obvious to all the rest of the counselors. Moose (Rico Whitehead) tells Peter to go for it, while Georgia (Charlee Amacher) tells him she needs time.

“…someone is murdered, and the killer puts on the skull mask, disappearing back into the forest.”

Fellow counselors Mario (Myles Valentine), Dougie (Jace Jamison), Mike (Charlie Bauer), Kelly (Seth Boyer), Traci (Kimmy Schofield), and Ronnie (Farbotta Lynn) work on cleaning up but soon get down to partying. However, the woods get dark at night, and a shadowy figure in a skull mask starts chopping people up with an axe. Who is this killer, and will anyone survive until morning?

Back in the 1970s, several homages to the screwball comedies of old Hollywood were produced. These movies would make sure every convention of the genre was obeyed due to respect for the power of the source material. None of them became classics themselves, but the love of the retro format was visible. It warms my heart to see the same reverence applied to slashers. The fact that we are separated by roughly the same amount of decades from the slasher era that the folks in the 70s were separated from screwball flicks is eye-opening. The care Isberg puts into honoring the look and the tropes of the slasher genre throughout Final Summer is nothing short of impressive.

Final Summer (2022)

Directed and Written: John Isberg

Starring: Jenna Kohn, Wyatt Taber, Rico Whitehead, Charlee Amacher, Farbotta Lynn, Myles Valentine, Jace Jamison, Charlie Bauer, Seth Boyer, Kimmy Schofield , etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Final Summer Image

"…a bloody love letter to a bygone era written with the tip of an axe."

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