Midlands Review of Dark Summer
By midlandsmovies, Feb 3 2020 10:09PM
Directed by Mark Murphy
Rocking Wolf Media
Dark Summer is a new January release filmed on location in Nottinghamshire from filmmaker Mark Murphy.
From Mark’s own production company Rocking Wolf Media, the director has made a number of creative shorts as well as working on corporate film work.
Here in Dark Summer we open with a satanic incantation taking place in a candle-lit room before we see two ladies laying a wreath at an ominous tree in the woods.
Back at home the younger of the two women – a heavily made-up goth girl – is angry with the mother figure before she heads off to her bedroom in a temper.
Later, the two catch up at the dinner table but not before we get a quick cutaway to more of the ritual in which a call to death is being made.
Halfway through the film it’s noticeable that Dark Summer is unfortunately affected by a terribly home-made feel. Whilst the director appears to have passion for the darker things in life, the film is mostly set in a living room area that appears solely lit by the ceiling light.
This bland tone sadly carries over into the shot choices where static camerawork highlights the dialogue which although brief, still confuses as the film doesn’t lead the audience down a clear enough narrative path.
Unfortunately then, I feel these rather poor technical and creative choices don’t represent the feeling that the filmmaker is attempting to portray.
A camera could move quickly or edit sharply during an argument. Certainly some close up to show the emotions on the protagonists’ faces but here there are just the most basic, and motionless, shot choices.
A final narrative twist hints upon some greater intrigue but the set-up isn’t handled well enough for an audience to be truly shocked. Again, a real shame given the intention.
So in the end I’d advise the filmmaker to look at the tone and shot choices of the sort of films that influence them as a way to improve. With low budgets and often amateur actors, local filmmakers need to be very inventive in their projects to overcome those limitations. But Dark Summer doesn’t do this and so the film regrettably ends up far more frustrating than frightening.