Right away, he inserts the campfire tale that sets up the concept of the killer, a crucial aspect that has been left out of recent slasher offerings like They/Them. Also, the killer is established and masked up within the first five minutes. Now that’s some mighty fancy slashing, partner! The improvised murder weapon trope is present in a death-by-awards trophy sequence. Also, the filmmaker pulls off a period piece without the usual expense with the brilliant move of shooting everything at a summer camp. All he has to do is get the clothing right. No worries, he and his crew do.
More than a few will be thrilled how this Illinois-made movie went out of its way to get a 1991 Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt onscreen. The lighting is excellent, recreating the eerie mood of the original slashers with help from a woodland fog machine. Also, an opportunity is taken to have many different body types cast as the leads as opposed to just casting models. This body variety window is wide open in horror as anyone can be cut up into little pieces. Well done.
“…uses the well-worn tropes to good effect…”
I do wish Isberg had brought some more red herrings to this cookout. Part of the fun of the slasher genre is someone who looks normal is secretly a maniac who wants to kill you. You spend most of the movie wondering, considering nearly everyone as secretly evil, loads of fun. Red herrings are set up as obvious choices to be the murderer behind the mask to distract from the real killer. The list of false suspects in Final Summer is short and gets even shorter in one mind-boggling scene where the masked killer appears before almost the entire cast. I know the director is doing a Friday the 13th tribute by casting a stunt performer as the killer. But it further narrows down who the killer could be due to the aforementioned variety of body types.
I also felt that not completely explaining the big reveal was a mistake, as the sickie back story is the dessert topping of slashers. Finally, there is a feeling that there should have been more elaborate murder sequences, as that is the reason we all showed up. I am not asking for a gore show, but some interesting kill locations and corpse tableaus go a long way. That being said, there is one unique slaying that I have never seen before. It involves a screen door and some blood that gets caught in the mesh. It is so delicate and beautiful, particularly in the lighting.
Final Summer is a bloody love letter to a bygone era written with the tip of an axe. It uses the well-worn tropes to good effect, even if who the killer winds up being is readily apparent. There’s enough blood here to satisfy gorehounds, even if the kills are not overly elaborate.
For screening information, visit the Final Summer official website.
"…a bloody love letter to a bygone era written with the tip of an axe."