First off, what the hell did I just watch?
Secondly, this was one of the best twisted shows I’ve ever watched.
In case you missed my series premiere review of Dead of Summer, feel free to read that first and loop back to this when you’re finished. A quick recap: Freeform launched a new summer series focusing on a group of camp counselors spending their summer at Camp Stillwater, a place that’s been closed for years. Until now. With big names like Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz behind this show, I had nothing but high expectations.
Throughout the series, the audience grew to know more and more about each character’s backstory and what led them to make their way back to camp after all these years. Everyone except Amy Hughes (Elizabeth Lail) is no stranger to the campsite so when strange things start happening, it takes a toll on each character one by one. Meanwhile, an outside cult led by a man named Damon (Andrew West) focuses on reawakening an evil spirit. Yeah, I know. It gets better.
As each episode airs, we find out more and more about this lurking evil spirit and more about a ghost named Holyoke who seems to be tied to this whole thing someway, somehow. It isn’t about halfway through the season when the aforementioned cult kidnaps Amy to be the “vessel” for the demon known as Malphas and Holyoke is the key to stopping this from happening. That’s when everything goes to hell. I guess you could say literally?
Remember how I mentioned that we got a back story of each character? Well, Amy was the last one to be revealed and it turns out, the sweet girl next door that no one knew about turned out to be evil since her childhood. (It’s always the quiet ones!) It appears that some kind of demonized force drew her to the camp and eventually took a hold of whatever soul was left in Amy. After everyone finally figured out what was going on and in an effort to help free Amy, Jessie (Paulina Singer), Garret (Alberto Frezza) and Alex (Ronen Rubinstein) attempt to perform a real life exorcism. Needless to say, it didn’t work. In the very last episode, Jessie fights for her life to escape the campgrounds since she holds the last piece that would let the evil spirit AKA Amy leave the campsite too.
This is a twisted, sick show that went 0 – 100 in about ten weeks. When you first watch the trailer, you pretty much have no sign as to where the story would be going by the end of the season. Sneaky, sneaky, Kitsis and Horowitz. If I would have known that there’d be some scene messing with a Ouija board or an exorcism about to happen while I’m watching this deep into the night, I would have gotten myself mentally prepared. Also, fans of American Psycho would be happy to know that there’s a lot of good, wholesome axe slaughtering. Cheers.
In June I predicted this to be the go-to summer series to binge watch and I stand by that statement. It isn’t often where you get a series that keeps you guessing or straight up scared. But with all these compliments, there were definitely some downsides.
More often than not, I either got mad at the lack of knowledge of the ‘80s. Again, this is supposed to take place in the late ‘80s but I barely saw any real striking similarities to the era other than the slight nod to David Bowie (RIP), cassette tapes and the Cold War. C’mon Kitsis and Horowitz! You’re able to imagine and put together some elaborate fairytale sets but when it comes to a time that actually happened, I see nothing that blew me away. Throw in side ponytails, bright colors, something to convince me that this actually took place in that time period.
Another disappointing thing to point out was the fact that everyone who survived was just… OK with what happened during camp. They interacted with ghosts. They witnessed bloodshed. They watched as the “souls” of their best friends went wandering into the lake. Yet they seem to be totally unphased by this whole thing. I don’t know, I get this was a limited series but if I were, you know, seeing ghosts and watching souls suddenly disappear in front of my eyes or even making out with one, I’m pretty sure I’d go bonkers. For these characters? No, nope. Everything seemed totally normal… OK then.
Lastly, as much as I cheered the hell out of Zelda Williams’ character, Drew Reeves, and Mark Indelicato’s, Blair Ramos, what the hell was the point? I honestly felt as if they were fillers who were playing in the background while all the real commotion was happening while they were away. I don’t know, I just wish they had more interaction with what was going on.
Despite all the negatives, Dead of Summer was still an impressive show. All episodes are now streaming on Freeform’s website.