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LIONS GATE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
David DeCoteau
Cast:
Shanley Caswell, Maureen McCormick, Eric Roberts, Tim Abell, R.J. Cantu
Writing Credits:
Barbara Kymlicka

Tagline:
This is no fairy tale.

Synopsis:
Snow (Shanley Caswell) was stunned when her Father (Eric Roberts) remarried. Still hurt and reeling, Snow began a cycle of bad behavior. Resentful of the tension Snow has caused in the house, her stepmother Linda (Maureen McCormick), convinces her father to send Snow away to a discipline camp. Snow learns that the camp has a history. There had been a murder there years prior and the prime suspect, one of the campers, disappeared into the woods never to be found again. When Snow starts to suspect that someone is watching from a distance… stalking them… she wonders if the killer may have returned. Soon, campers start dying off. Snow’s stepmother uses the camp’s troubled history as an excuse to get Snow out of the picture. She’s been killing the campers one by one and now Snow is next!

Box Office:
Budget
$1 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio:
1.78:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 3/20/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director David DeCoteau and Actors Chase Bennett and Jason-Shane Scott
• Stills Gallery
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Snow White: A Deadly Summer (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 20, 2012)

With two big-screen updates on the story about to hit theaters, the folks at Lionsgate figured they’d stake out the territory first with a direct-to-video flick called Snow White: A Deadly Summer. After repeated instances of reckless behavior, Snow (Shanley Caswell) gets sent to a camp for troubled teens. Her father Grant (Eric Roberts) hopes this’ll help her, but her stepmother Eve (Maureen McCormick) just wants to get rid of the girl she despises. Eve consults with a magic mirror that acts as her advisor; it tells her to find a way to eliminate Snow once and for all.

At Camp Allegiance, Snow meets head counselor Hunter (Shawn Abell), a tough as nails former military man who runs the place with an iron fist. Along the way, she meets the other campers and learns a legend of alleged murders that once took place on the property. As time passes, Snow experiences visions that presage the deaths of her fellow campers – visions that come true.

When a movie’s opening lines consist of “Woo! Yeah!” then you’re in trouble. When a movie’s opening consists of those same lines uttered twice – and yelled without a shred of believability either time – then you know you’re in big trouble.

The most credit I can throw at Summer comes from its vague attempt to rework a well-worn fairy tale. However, it fails in this endeavor, as it uses the plot in a loose manner that doesn’t make much sense. I get the impression the filmmakers choose to turn this into a “Snow White movie” just for cheap name recognition; while it does incorporate some of the classic elements, it really offers little more than a basic horror flick.

And a crummy one at that. I don’t know the budget for Summer, but I’d guess it’s somewhere between 20 and 30 dollars. Not a single aspect of the movie seems professional or well-rendered. The script is a mess; packed with cliché lines and predictable narrative choices, it offers a meandering, generally pointless tale without much coherence.

The whole “Snow White” twist really does seem tacked on. Why do we need a wicked stepmother who speaks to a magic mirror? This has little connection to the main narrative; why not just have Eve be jealous of Snow’s connection to her dad and leave it at that?

Why turn Snow into someone with supernatural visions, either? Her psychic thoughts and Eve’s mirror don’t make the film intriguing or creative; they simply seem like incomprehensible story choices. I guess the filmmakers needed something to sell the project; at its heart it’s nothing more than a simple teen horror film, so at least the Snow White thing gives the marketers an angle.

Too bad they can’t sell the movie itself. As I already noted, the story’s a mess, and nothing else about the project works either. The acting seems uniformly atrocious. Even the “name actors” like Roberts and McCormick flop badly, and none of the others do any better; they’re all either too wooden or too arch.

The film’s lackluster direction does it no favors, as plot points come and go without much clarity. Early on, we see Eve’s side as a big component, but then she vanishes for extended periods. The scenes at the camp simply plod along from one death to another and never develop any sense of menace or intrigue.

It doesn’t help that Harry Manfredini’s score batters us from beginning to end. Given that he worked on the original Friday the 13th and roughly 487 other horror flicks, Manfredini could be regarded as a legend in the industry, but he provides terrible work here. The score knows no sense of ups and downs or subtlety, as even the simplest scenes get treated like they’re climactic. Someone could scratch his nose and walk to the mailbox; Manfredini would slam us with cliché horror/thriller cues.

I suspect this occurs because Manfredini and everyone else involved understands that there’s no meat in this particular sandwich so they hope that edgy music will do their work for them. It doesn’t; instead, it just befuddles the viewer.

Speaking of weird, apparently the filmmakers couldn’t afford decent “day for night” filters. Every time we go to a nighttime scene, the screen turns Smurf blue. The first time this happened; I thought it was some weird stylistic choice, but eventually a light went off and I realized that was simply the movie’s version of nighttime.

To say this is an odd and disconcerting choice would be an understatement. We never get used to the bright blue night shots, and it doesn’t help that daytime tends to veer orange. Making a bad movie strange-looking doesn’t add to its value.

And after all that, Summer comes with one of the cheapest “twist endings” I’ve ever seen. Rather than come up with a logical finale, the film decides to take it down an even more absurd path, as though no one could figure out a sane way to wrap up the proceedings.

I suppose that’s appropriate, as a totally awful film deserves a totally awful ending. I suffered through this train wreck so you won’t have to do the same – avoid this amateurish disaster.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus C

Snow White: A Deadly Summer appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a reasonably well-rendered SD-DVD transfer.

Sharpness usually looked positive. A little softness crept into a few wide shots, and some elements could be a bit blocky, but those were minor distractions. Most of the flick showed pretty good clarity and accuracy. I witnessed only minor instances of shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes appeared to be absent. No source flaws popped up along the way.

As I mentioned in the body of the review, the film came with some odd colors choices; nighttime shots were a flat blue, while daylight segments tended toward an orange filter. Although I didn’t care for these as stylistic choices, the DVD replicated them fine; they didn’t look good, but I couldn’t blame the transfer for the director’s bizarre decisions. Blacks were fairly dense, and shadows showed nice delineation. All of this was good enough for a “B”.

With the film’s Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack, we got a loud but not particularly well-developed piece. Actually, sound quality wasn’t bad. Speech tended to be reasonably natural and concise, and music showed good range and vivacity. Effects were acceptable, as they provided decent accuracy.

The soundfield wasn’t particularly impressive, though. Music dominated the affair, as the score blasted from the side and rear speakers. It showed pretty good stereo presence at least, but effects didn’t seem as convincing. Those elements tended to focus on the center; they occasionally moved to the sides, but those instances didn’t deliver especially involving movement or engagement. This turned into a “C+” mix.

Only a couple of extras show up, though we do find an audio commentary from director David DeCoteau and actors Chase Bennett and Jason-Shane Scott. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the project’s roots and development, sets and locations, cast and performances, photographic choices, and related topics.

If you want to learn a lot about Summer, this commentary will disappoint you; the participants tell us a little about the film but tend to focus elsewhere. Perversely, that actually makes the chat more interesting than if it had concentrated on the movie. Instead, the director and actors discuss their careers and the business as a whole, which leads to some reasonably good insights. It’s an odd track given its lack of emphasis on the film itself, but it’s got enough to make it worth a listen.

Within a Stills Gallery, we find 12 images. These simply represents shots from the movie; we get no behind the scenes information. Not only are they dull, but they look blocky and ugly. They’re a waste of space.

The disc opens with ads for The Last Exorcism, The Others, The Eye, and The Haunting in Connecticut. These pop up under Also From Lionsgate as well, and we get the Trailer for Summer.

I suspect that all the publicity about the two upcoming big-budget Snow White movies will entice some poor souls to check out Snow White: A Deadly Summer. Have pity on them, as they know not what they do. As for you, presumably you’ve read this review, so unless you’re a complete masochist, you’ll avoid this steaming pile. The DVD comes with pretty good picture quality, adequate audio and an unusual but often enjoyable commentary. While the DVD itself is a decent product, the movie is a total dud.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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