Cruel Summer (2016)

Director: Philip Escott, Craig Newman
Starring: Richard Pawulski , Danny Miller, Reece Douglas, Natalie Martins, Gary Knowles, Grace Dixon. UK. 1h 20m

Philip Escott and Craig Newmans movie is an intensely controlled, beautifully raw and a bittersweetly acted account of the systematic hunt and brutal murder of an innocent autistic teen. Richard Pawulski plays a peaceful young man, Danny, who heads into the countryside for some camping, ethical fishing and to enjoy the solitude for this Duke of Edinburgh award, but unknown to him, an enamored Julia (Martins) has lied to a violent and jealous Nicholas (Miller) about Danny having sexual relations with his (now) ex, this lie starts to spread and grows into Danny being a pedophile to encourage another friend to help them track him down and teach him a lesson.

There’s a stark contrast in the busy noisy streets and arcades of the city to the tranquil nature reserve. Danny’s life and journey is totally different to the hateful people who are stalking him, but once they make their entrance into the forest, it’s as if they marr the beauty of nature around as the film begins to spiral out of control. Miller and Martin really ace their roles as scotes who have nothing better to do than look for a fight, stealing from the local offy and being general bottom feeders.

Pawulski has a unique way of representing Danny’s autistic mannerisms, it’s effective in the way that I feel I’ve seen him in this role before but this is a one of for the young actor, sometimes familiarity is a sign that an actor has hit something on the head, and I fell Pawulski has managed to achieve something very authentic here, along with the chavy idiots who are out for blood, the huge gold hoops, thick mascara and noncey Monster driven tracksuit hoodies are en point.

The directors have a lot of practice with short movies and have produced a number of documentaries for companies like Arrow Video, Eureka Entertainment and 88 Films, so it’s not surprise that this film is quite compact, but once the edgy bravado really starts to take over the violence is handled well, it’s shocking and humiliating, and not easy to watch, but it never is when kids are hurting each other, with the new wave of violent teen horrors such as Cherry Tree Lane (2010) and Eden Lake (2008) this follows suit but seems to be based on the true story of the murder of Terry Hurst (https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/mar/11/ukcrime.martinwainwright). We’ll never really know exactly what happened on that day but it’s easy for forensics to piece things together. From what I’ve read this seems to be a decent representation, a true compact glimpse of hell.

Rating: 6/10

R: Cherry Tree Lane (2010), Eden Lake (2008),
L: Teen that Kill, Real Life thrillers

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