Cruel Summer DVD Review (Wild Eye Releasing)
Cruel Summer is a 2016 horror film directed by Phillip Escott & Craig Newman. It’s based off a true event from Sheffield in 2004 plus inspired by a few other situations from other crimes a few years before. It was finished on a 10 day shoot financed on their own. It opens up with a little preview of the chaos that’s about to come later on. Danny (played by: Richard Pawulski from All in the Valley) is a teenager with autism, his escape from reality is the amazing countryside where he likes to camp. He goes in alone to separate himself from everything. It’s his favorite distraction from his every day problems. Julia (played by: Natalie Martins from Poltergeist Activity, Kill or be Killed, & The Barge People) makes a outrageous claim against the troubled teen to the wrong person. This rage motivates a plan of revenge. Lead by Nicholas (played by: Danny Miller from Grange Hill, Emmerdale, & Lightfields) with their other friend Calvin (played by: Reece Douglas from The Knife That Killed Me, Waterloo Road, & Think Again), these 3 are not going to stop anything from righting this wrong committed by Danny last summer but will the other 2 get all the facts before they go too far? Nicholas tells his friends that Danny is a pedophile & only gets away with it because of his disease. The insecure & jaded Nicholas can’t stand the fact he thinks Danny had his ex girlfriend Lisa before him when he thought she was a virgin. Julia has created a path of destruction & torture based off her false claims on the innocent Danny. They trick Danny’s mom like they are his friends to get information on where to find her son. Calvin & Julia both question this retaliation as Nicholas starts to go way too far on this brutal mission. Lies become a reality to the easily manipulated & their actions can be forgotten. Only the truth can end this sadistic treatment!
Cruel Summer is much more than a social commentary on bullying & how people are treated. When you watch something based off a true story like this it haunts your mind & sticks with you for awhile. It goes further than entertainment & something to just waste time on. Nicholas is one of the most unlikable characters you’ll ever see on screen & the fact that he was real makes it much worse. He’s the ultimate bully, when I say that I just don’t mean for the helpless Danny. He pushes both of his friends to their terrifying limits with no remorse. He brought out something they didn’t know they had inside of them. Every time they showed hesitation he made sure that it went away with his aggressive peer pressure. Cruel Summer is honestly hard to watch because Danny doesn’t have a hurtful bone in his entire body. He can’t defend himself & he doesn’t realize what’s going on until it’s too late. This tragedy could have been stopped with the simple truth but everyone let this brutal event get to the point of no return. It captured the pain, the confliction, & the aftermath when people go too far. Everything from the look, the cast, & the overall production made you forget it was a low budget movie. The isolated setting was like another character in this. This is a great example of where quality over quantity is used right.
Lucas Tucknott’s (Connected, Cage, & Get Gone) cinematography elevates the picture quality & presentation for Cruel Summer. This is low budget film making at it’s best planned when it comes to the final product delivered. Let’s discuss the special features on this DVD from Wild Eye Releasing. First off, you get an Audio Commentary with both directors Phillip Escott & Craig Newman. They both go into to detail about the production of this feature. You can tell by their interaction & chemistry from listening to them together on here why this movie turned out so good. 4 minute “FrightFest” interview from directors Phillip Escott & Craig Newman with Ian Rattray. It’s a quick chat on the inspiration & making of Cruel Summer. Last but not least, there’s a 6 minute interview with the main villain from this Danny Miller. The actor talks about how he got the role & his experience with it. If you want to see a powerful independent film, I highly recommend this Cruel Summer DVD release from Wild Eye Releasing. It’s available everywhere including for rent at Family Video & on Video on Demand, check it out!