SUMMER OF MASSACRE – review

­Summer of Massacre

          Ok, now I have seen everything.  It took a while but we finally got a horror movie trying to be Sin City.  Sort of.  The charm of Sin City though lay with its characters that they all intersected and interacted and lived in the backdrop of a surreal city where reality wavered.  Summer of Massacre though is one of those movies where they took the conceit of live film with digital backgrounds and effects and well, put them in a garbage disposal and hoped for the best.

Summer of Massacre is an anthology with four stories and a sort of a wrap-around.  The stories are dark, hyper-violent tales of murder and madness and rely heavily on digital special effects to push the boundaries with gore.  None of the four stories intertwine but are instead stories in their own place and time, though I would imagine that the idea is that all of this horror is happening during this ‘Summer of Massacre’.

The first story tells the story of a man out for a simple late night run who is horribly beaten and robbed by three men.  The men disfigure the runner and leave him for dead, though he is in a deep state of shock.  When another runner finds him and tries to help him he attacks and brutally murders her and then goes on a killing spree throughout the town.  There is no method to his madness, just a deep bloodlust.

The second story we have is about a fractured family perched on the edge.  When one of the daughters is forced to take her two siblings with her (all of the ‘kids’ are adults playing teens) her deep-seated anger bubbles to the surface.  Her handicapped sister is dying and disfigured and the sister decides it might be time to rid the family of her burden.  What she doesn’t anticipate though is what would happen if her disfigured sister should live through the murder attempt.

Our third tale is the most interesting of the bunch and focuses on a man about to make a deeper commitment in his relationship and so he decides to tell her about his past, a past that has been haunted since childhood by a monstrous figure bent on tormenting and killing him.  What he finds out though is that this thing is still hunting him and is getting closer than ever to finally having him all to its own.

The last story is a literal campfire story told at a religious camp about the legend that haunts the forest.  When the legend turns out to be real though the last survivors must find a way to escape or they’ll only add to the areas grim legacy.

See, on the surface the shorts sound interesting.  On the surface that is.  Sadly there is no beneath the surface here.  While each story could add nuances and subtleties it just isn’t there.  These are as straightforward as you could get, the focus being on the gore and violence.  The acting, what acting there is, seems almost improvised, and consists mainly of screaming.  The gore that is so prevalent throughout is made to be ridiculous because of the overuse of CG.  It’s this aspect that is so confusing about the film.  At first I thought the digital gore was to push the envelope and really go over the top but as the film progresses I started to wonder if this wasn’t just a gore comedy I wasn’t getting.  A joke that was beyond me.  The effects make me think that, the lack of story makes me think that, and the overall tone of nihilism makes me think that but, honestly, if this film is a joke, or a series of jokes, they fall flat.  Really flat.

This is one of those movies that made me hate reviewing films.  There was just nothing here for me to latch onto.  It is meanness and gore for the sake of meanness and gore and if you watch all the way through the credits the nihilism plays out to its seeming inevitable, albeit nonsensical, conclusion.  And that is the problem here, that there is so little logic that the film plays like a cartoon.  Again, maybe that was the point, but if so it didn’t work for me.  I never laughed, I never cringed (save for the performances and writing), and I never connected on any level with the film.  Clearly it wasn’t made for ‘me’. This is extreme party gore made to play to crowds of gorehounds who will laugh at every exploding head and evisceration. To me the movie played like a very juvenile exercise in extremes.  There is all but no plot, little acting, not much direction, and downright awful digital effects.  A lot of people will tout this as being ‘arty’ and that it is pushing the boundaries but really all it is doing is playing to the lowest common denominator and proving how bad horror films can get.  I admire the ambition of director/everything else Joe Castro to do so much on this film but in the end it’s an emotionless eyesore of a film that is memorable only for how bad it is.

1 out of 10

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