6.5 out of 10
Release Date: 6th June 2009
Director: Julian Richards (Darklands / The Last Horror Movie)
Cast: Kevin Howarth, Ciaran Joyce, Amy Harvey, Jonathan Jones, Chris Conway, Ryan Conway and Darren Evans
Writer: Al Wilson
Trailer: SUMMER SCARS ** This is one of those annoying trailers that a) makes the film look sh*t and b) contains major plot spoilers….
.To be proofread & edited: I have a feeling that I’ve caught Summer Scars on it’s second round of sales. It’s been re-jacketed by Soda Pictures and dated as a 2013 release but IMDB tells a different story in that this great little film got made back in 2007 and saw it’s first release in 2009. The fact that it’s actually good enough to warrant a rediscovery is a nice surprise. I’ve only recently stumbled upon this practice via the weird and untalented Cornish film director Richard Driscoll (who made Highway To Hell then rebranded it as Eldorado and did something similar with The Legend of Harrow Woods). It’s a shady practice renaming your under performing shit to get some extra money. Anyway who cares? On this occasion it has turned out well because Summer Scars is a good film.
Six young teenagers spend an afternoon in the local woods, farting about with a stolen scooter and sharing piss weak beer. When the alpha male Paul (JONATHAN JONES) knocks accidentally knocks a man down with said scooter it kicks off a nightmarish chain of events. At first the victim, Peter (KEVIN HOWARTH – THE MAGNIFICENT ELEVEN) comes across as a kindly down and out ex-soldier. But as the afternoon progresses he beings to reveal a twisted and sadistic side, playing the youngsters off against each other in a series of belittling mind games. The sole girl, Leanne (AMY HARVEY) is the most outspoken and strongest but she also turns out to be the one with the most to lose.
Summer Scars‘ biggest strength is its young cast. The cast are thoroughly convincing as a group of kids who are old enough to commit crimes but may not be old enough,brave enough or smart enough to outwit their tormentor. All of them are strong with the standouts being Amy Harvey and Darren Evans (HUNKY DORY) as Jonesy, the clown of the group whois singled out as an early target for Peter. The kids aren’t worldly enough to spot the doors close behind Peter as he sets his game up. It appears at first that he is improvising but it quickly becomes apparent that he’s got specific axes to grind and he forces certain situations to arrive at a twisted set of his own conclusions. the film would fail if he was the weak link but Kevin Howarth does a very good job. The kids don’t know which way he’ll go. Will he beat them or tussle their hair? The conclusion is inevitable as soon as one of the characters brags about his dad or brother owning a gun, then later escaping. It’s not a plot spoiler. It’s just plain obvious.
The final shot of Summer Scars is priceless though. A handy little twist to keep the audience thinking. The writer has a good handle on the dialogue although at times you can tell it’s been written by an older person. The script doesn’t contain all that much slang. For poor valley kids, they have a fair grasp of The Queen’s English. If the cast had been allowed to improvise a small bit giving a spin to the dialogue it would have been the cherry on an already good cake. The film plays like an inverted Eden Lake with fewer chills. But in keeping the events more down to earth gives this film the advantage. All incident in the film could really happen and pan out this way. It’s the kind of story that would make local news but not national news. Some may compare this to Stand By Me, but this has more teeth although the way the kids come together to fight against a common foe rings bells. Summer Scars is also very lensed and the score is minimal but effective. It’s a victory because the largely unknown cast do a sterling job. Many of the cast (according to IMDB) have not acted before or since and that’s a real shame considering how ‘well-connected’ talent vacuum’s like Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint continue to get top jobs. Kevin Howarth seems to be on an small upswing with a leading role in the new Wesley Snipes flick Gallowwalker and the Brit-Horror The Seasoning House. His plum role in this film should have led to some good jobs, so maybe it’s a bad agent or bad luck that’s held him back.
6.5 out of 10 – Thoughtful and enjoyable little thriller. Reminiscent of Eden Lake. It’s elevated by very good acting from it’s small and talented young cast. Recommended if you like your horror mild, non-gory but extra edgy. DON’T WATCH THE TRAILER – IT GIVES THE WHOLE PLOT AWAY….
Review Below by Joe “Ewok Worrier” Pesci II (yes, worrier NOT warrior)
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Kevin Howarth: The Seasoning House, The Magnificent Eleven, Gallowwalkers, The Last Horror Movie, Razor Blade Smile
- Ciaran Joyce: The Story Of Tracy Beaker (TV)
- Darren Evans: Hunky Dory