Thursday, March 15, 2018

In short: Summer House (2008)

aka Secrets of the Summer House

In this Canadian production for Lifetime, a somewhat likeable yuppie couple played by Lindsay Price and David Haydn-Jones (well, she’s supposed to be an artist rather than an actual yuppie, but talks a lot about art in a way that suggests her lines were written by someone who has no clue about it, and her art is terrible, so…) who like to engage in the sort of sex scenes which are neither titillating nor useful for the plot inherit the yuppie man’s ancestral home.

Turns out there’s a curse on his blood line, so ghosts are in the picture. Fortunately for the guy, his wife is hell-bent on keeping him alive and turning the place into an “artists colony” (of the blandest possible sort, don’t fret), and if that means a bit of research and some communicating with the spirit world, so be it.

Unfortunately, at least two thirds of the ghostly activity is weak even for TV movie standards, director Jean-Claude Lord clearly not having much of a hand for this sort of thing, and only stumbling on the couple of good scenes because some things are mildly entertaining even when they are directed very blandly.

Unlike today’s Lifetime movies that in my limited experience love to dial things up to camp eleven or at least make a decent try at insanity, Summer House is a bit of a sedate experience, gently strolling through plot points any sensible film would at least milk for maximum melodrama (Ghosts! Husband in a coma (it’s serious)! The shadow of slavery!). But then, this is a film where the useless and/or interesting medium demanded by trope and tradition is replaced by a helpful – but at least useless - middle aged woman with crystals, so I am probably expecting too much. On the other hand, my expectation of a film using the slave trade and assorted horrors as the inciting events of its spooking, to at least try and say something about it, seems to be perfectly reasonable.

Now having complained about all this, I also have to admit the whole affair is still perfectly watchable, exactly the type of film one might choose to inflict on oneself on a rainy Sunday afternoon when headaches prevent the watching of anything more substantial.

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