Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dead Of Summer: Season One Review

After the nonsense that was "Pretty Little Liars" (let's face it, Cece being "A" was less than underwhelming) ABC Family retooled it's self to become "Freeform", a whole new network catering towards tweens & millennials and with it's new name comes new programming. Making there debuts on the new network are "Guilt" (which stars Billy Zane in a role that is shamefully beneath him, honestly the man is an amazing actor and should be doing better stuff) "Marvel's Cloak & Dagger" (which raises a ton of questions as to why not just go the Netflix route with those two) and finally "Dead Of Summer". Much like "Pretty Little Liars", I got interested in "Dead Of Summer" due to certain theater chains having a "First Look" segment before the previews where you get behind the scenes info on upcoming shows or the next season of shows.

So "Dead Of Summer", what's it about, well its about a camp of teens in the 1980s who arrive at the haunted Camp Stillwater. Going into this series, I have some reservations, I'm none too keen on period pieces that aren't set in old times, but I suppose its harder to write a horror movie in this digital age what with characters being able to call and tweet when paranormal stuff is going on, I mean can you imagine #GhostatCamp. Then again, I think its just a call for writers to step their game up and figure out new ways to introduce horror and make it believable for the digital age. So I can understand if that's the reason why "Dead Of Summer" takes place in the 80s. That being said, we have some heavy hitters in the cast, Elizabeth Mitchell who was in "L O S T" and "Revolution" and the daughter of the late Robin Williams, Zelda Williams and Tony Todd a.k.a "Candy Man".

Now immediately when you think Summer camp, 1980s, teenagers our thoughts immediately go to Jason and Camp Crystal Lake, but "Dead Of Summer" didn't promote it's self to be a slasher series, rather it promoted its self as having a deep and ancient mythology. Before ABC Family was Freeform, it tired to do deep and ancient mythology with the failure that was "Ravenswood". However, seeing as how it took place within the "Pretty Little Liars" universe, it wasn't well received and was shamefully hookie aside from a few segments. Anyway the reason I bring up Jason and The Friday The 13th Series is because those were movies and contained within a certain running time. Will the campers of Camp Stillwater still be at Camp in later Seasons? That's one of my primary concerns for this show, how can they make this series last logically. You'd have to think that each season would be a week in camp? Maybe? So I'm very curious to see how and where this series takes us and if it'll be something worthy of a weekly review. With all that said, let's get to the episodes proper and see what's what. Spoilers abound...

So here are my thoughts on "Dead Of Summer", now that after the series has concluded is revealed to be an anthology in the same vein as "American Whore (I'm sorry) Horror Story" with Camp Crystal Lake being the common thread. All in all, "Dead Of Summer" wasn't bad. It got off to a rocky start with a few episodes and a few characters who were slightly annoying but ultimately it wasn't terrible. So let's talk about the first episode which introduced us to the character of Amy. I wasn't all that interested with the initial flashback of Amy being unable to save Margo when she fell off out the window, I was always under the impression that Amy killed Margo, BUT my suspicions were confirmed by the end of the series when it was revealed that Amy let Margo go and killed her family when she was younger. Hilarious.

"You should've taken the chocolate, Margot."

Psycho Amy was an interesting twist, as well as the twist of making Tony Todd a good guy and not a villain was also something I speculated on, even if the man has a certain sinister quality about him.  Holy Oak was indeed an interesting character but wasn't around long enough to really make that much of impact on the series at large. Anyway, stepping back, let's talk about the flashbacks. The flashbacks did a good job (with some characters) in introducing us to them, their backstory and how they function. Where Jessica would originally seem stuck up and moody, her backstory really showed her to be a sympathetic character, as well as Alex came off initially as a preppy rich kid his backstory as a Russian immigrant out for revenge was also pretty awesome in making him a solid character. Garrett and Damon have the best backstory as it was initially Garrett who was the bad influence and Damon who was the shy timid kid. Swerves like that always make me smile because we see the characters now and they're in two different places than they were back then.

One day your friend is handing you a baseball bat and asking you to commit a felony...

That being said, the series does have some MAJOR issues, for starters it never made good on the promise that Damon and his crew wouldn't die if their blood mixed with the vessel, how did Amy know to put on that mask and robe and complete the ritual (was she already possessed upon arrival?), why did Deb have the mask to begin with? And who exactly did Joel have sex with that night? Guess we'll never know and I guess those topics aren't entirely important but they would help explain a great deal or round out the season.

...the next you're leading a group of Satanists to commit mass suicide for immortality. Ya know, standard growing up stuff.

By the end of the season it basically turned into a bloodbath with Axe Crazy Amy going around hacking and slashing everyone will-nilly while being possessed by Maelphis and here's where I think the series ultimately fails. We know that at least by 1989 The Cult hasn't succeeded in raising Maelphis, so going back into the past wouldn't do much because the audience is aware of what happen back then, at least partially. So unless there is more to Camp Stillwater than meets the eye, I doubt they have much story left, even if this is an anthology. And that's the real issue, there isn't anywhere else for this series to go, unless each year the same Cult performs the same ritual to try and bring Maelphis to the realm of mortals and fail every time, but ultimately that premise would get really old, really quick. This was great for a summertime mini-series but an actual Season by Season series, nope. I give "Dead Of Summer" a C-, decent story-telling, interesting enough premise but ultimately no real legs to keep me coming back for more. Hope you guys enjoyed my review and I'll catch you on the flip-flop.
Not sure if this is cool or cheesy...okay, for ABC Family this is pretty cool.

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