Summer Scars is a film that doesn't try to be too big, has a strong cast of teen and adult actors who do just that, act, and has a strong script and idea that comes through well on screen. It has some down moments and a there's a feeling that more tension and weight could have been placed on it, but this is a surprisingly good film that promises more from all involved.
Straight from the word go, or from the opening titles, the young actors are giving good and very believable performances, never overacting or underplaying their roles. I find so often that performances of younger actors just don't convince me, either because of their acting or because of the lines or actions the script feeds them, lines usually written by much older people. Here neither is true, the actors are strong and the script provides them with the reality of how they would behave and speak. In fact I don't believe that these actors have many wrong steps in the whole film.
The film also limits itself on location. Instead of spreading itself around it keeps the scope very much like a play, staying in one main location with a few smaller moments nearby when characters need to have more personal moments. This allows the film to focus on the story and the characters, an presumably the budget to be focussed on these aspects too. It actually turns out to be rather effective.
There is one adult in amongst the talented line up, Peter, played by Kevin Howarth, and he provides the oddity in the normality of the teenagers story, and like the young actors he plays his part rather well, giving a performance where he flips between normal and slightly off kilter at almost random moments. He shares some of the strongest and best scripted moments near the end of the film with the girl, Leanne, played by Amy Harvey.
Their scene together is is the most powerful moment in the film and Peter's aggressive diatribe towards her, and all women, is cleverly written and does make you feel more and more uneasy as he goes on.
However it's not all good for him and the script, for there's a scene where he encourages all the children to beat up on him and it just seems rather at odds with the story so far and with the way the children are behaving. It didn't feel the right thing for the character to do and it just didn't fit well with the story for me.
Out of the young actors the girl is the best for me, she has the best moments, lines and gives the best performance. It was some of her scenes that returned me to the feeling of being a teenager and addresses some of the issues of being that age that made a connection with me. They were both amusing and uncomfortable to see, but the moments were well observed and captured.
The ending of the film has a nice feel to it, and with the final moments I had that impression of a film that could be the beginning of a pre-slasher film, a very realistic beginning in how it could really begin. Of course I'm sure that's not how it was planned, and it's certainly not what the rest of the film is saying, but it's a nice touch to the ending of the film.
Summer Scars is an enjoyable film that doesn't try and be anything it isn't. It concentrates on its strengths, and those are the actors and the script, and despite a few moments that don't work so well, for the majority it will provide you with something a little different and engaging. It doesn't try and follow the trends of British horror of the past few years and that's a bonus.
I was rather impressed by the film and some of the talent and would like to see more from these actors, writer and director, because judging by this they have plenty to offer.