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cast: Amanda Seyfried, Shawn Ashmore, R. Lee Ermey, Tyler Hoechlin, and Elisabeth Harnois

director: Daniel Myrick

87 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 16:9
Icon DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
Horror is a contested term in moviemaking and Solstice stretches that definition - as given by its marketeers - to the max, but it doesn't make it a bad movie. It is packaged as horror but is more teen-chiller than scary, hence the certificate of 15, which tells its own story. Think The O.C. meets Ghost Whisperer and you're about there.

The plot is pretty standard teen-chiller fare; a bunch of good looking teenagers are being haunted by a ghost whilst at a secluded cabin for the summer solstice. Said ghost is thought to be the recently deceased twin sibling of Megan (Elisabeth Harnois, One Tree Hill, Point Pleasant) and Megan calls upon her pubescent pals to help her understand what is going on.

On the plus side, Solstice has a very impressive range of performances from a relatively unheralded cast. There are a couple of up and comers such as Shawn Ashmore (X-Men, The Quiet), and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia, Big Love), but it is seasoned pro R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket, Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake) who stands out above the rest as Leonard in an altogether too brief role. In addition to the commendable acting performances, The Blair Witch Project director, Daniel Myrick, pieces together the film and predictable plot with at least some artistic flair - if you are willing to forgive the lack of bumps in the night that is. The biggest scare is when something is moved behind the scared teenagers' backs. Boo! That said, aside from the climax, there is a welcome lack of gratuitous violence - perhaps Myrick's influence - which is all too often the fall back for many a flailing horror flick.

At just under 90 minutes long, Solstice is just long enough to ensure you don't feel cheated at the price of a DVD and short enough to stop you being distracted. It is full of tried and tested horror clich�s but tends to be the tame versions - like using a cuddly toy as a prelude to fright. The main gripes are the lack of true scares and the pretty sterile plot which is essentially a variation on a theme. Aside from this it is a well shot, competently acted and overall decent flick with an ending that does much to drag it from the mediocre to the acceptable.

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