It’s cool to have the opportunity to experience the very first attempt by a group of enthusiastic, horror-loving moviemakers. Midsummer Nightmares is as indie slasher as it gets. The first film by Concept Media and director Ryan Stacy, it’s part 80s retro slasher, part post-Scream slasher…and part Big Brother!
One of my favorite moments showcasing Ryan Stacy’s eye for effective horror is the first kill—even though I wanted this chick to live! She’s awesome! And her mother totally rox! Mom leave after a particularly humorous exchange between the two and the killer comes on the scene wearing simply a black hoodie and a blank white mask. The camera angles and shots are really tight, and when the chase begins, the outdoor setting, a path of perfectly lined trees, is a great visual.
Thing is, this chick’s friends don’t know she has been killed. They’re all busy preparing for their Midsummer Nightmares summer Halloween party and fighting nonstop! There’s so much friction and backstabbing of the reality show variety that it’s a shock they want to attend the same party! You watch and wonder why you’re supposed to care about any of these kids. Or are you supposed to care…?
This is a revenge slasher in the tradition of movies like Prom Night or Urban Legend. Director/writer Ryan Stacy takes a very serious approach to the script, but he could actually create a pretty damn funny slasher loaded with gay sensibilities if he wanted. There are several subtle comic moments that made me laugh out loud and the final reveal of the killer’s motives would be perfect for a campy slasher. Ryan himself even shows up in drag at the party! It just seems he set out to make a serious horror film and didn’t dare step over the line to fully expose his fabulous side. But I could see him easily pulling off something in the lines of All About Evil; something wild and whacky that doesn’t sacrifice hardcore violence and gore.
There’s a clear dedication to classic slasher style in the death scenes, with vicious stabbings and the killer suddenly appearing from the darkness. But then one character gets tied down and the level of brutality is suddenly, surprisingly escalated! Didn’t see that coming!
Plus, the auditory horror cues are those awesome “dripping blood orchestral stabs.” However, instead of being saved for true suspense scenes, they play at odd times, like when the dudes get into a fight. It becomes a continual false alarm situation and you end up never being sure if danger lurks just around the corner.
Speaking of the fighting dudes, Ryan sure knows how to cast some fricking cuties! They’re all adorable for different reasons, whether muscular sleek or beefy manly. One dude with a drop-dead gorgeous body…um…drops dead after showing off the luscious booty! As for the chicks, there’s a dark lesbian, and our leading lady gives off a serious Katharine “Ginger Snaps” Isabelle vibe.
And then there’s our killer who, once revealed, totally goes for the crazy. Awesome. Plus, the final fight is knock down, drag out entertaining.
Ryan Stacy and crew are moving ahead with Midsummer Nightmares 2, and it will be interesting to see how they approach making a sequel.