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Summer Scars
cast: Kevin Howarth, Ciaran Joyce, Darren Evans, Jonathon Jones, and Chris Conway

director: Julian Richards

68 minutes (n/r) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
TLA / Jinga DVD Region 1 or 2 retail

RATING: 0/10
reviewed by Paul Higson
This month I went for pot luck on the screeners and I find coming back at me is a film I have already seen. Julian Richard's Summer Scars would not have been a review choice. It interested me not a jot on the first viewing and forced to watch it a second time I am now compelled to despise it. I cannot find an entry point into Summer Scars, it is uninviting, and there is nothing for me here. I don't care. Seven dull youths muck around in the woods and bum around with a homeless man who turns out to be a pervert. Following the screening over a year ago at the Festival of Fantastic Films, I confessed my conclusions on the film direct to the director and I don't doubt Julian was displeased even though I am only one person. But as the film gave me so little meat to chew over at least I knew that I was not going to harass Richards further, in print, reiterating the film's failings. Murmurs have since circulated as to how good this film is but I wonder at the sources of such opinion.

My annoyance at the time was in that I knew Richards to be capable of much better as was proven by his previous two films Silent Cry (still shown on Channel 5 with some frequency), and The Last Horror Movie. Summer Scars had the feel of a compromise; it was my opinion, and remains so, that in his inability to get a bigger project off the ground, Julian settled upon the petty cash tin and a sitting script. It plugged a potential gap in the curriculum vitae and at the time of speaking he was being courted for a horror film called 'The Reeds' which then existed in a cheap but effective mock-up trailer and possibly shot by someone else. At the festival event, Richards was dismissive of a low-budget Scottish sci-fi actioner, The Planet, that ran immediately before his own but I thought The Planet at least aspirational in its scope and genre.

Summer Scars is adrift. The dialogue of the children is insipid. Not all youngsters are this boring. Some kids are brainless but many aren't; why can't we listen to the amusing ones. Where is their sense of humour? Where is their imagination? Their talk is unnatural, an idiot relay, and the interaction unconvincing. They guffaw at their minor cuss words. "Who brought the bitch?" (Ooh, I said 'bitch'!) "I'll bust a cap in your ass!" (Can't this film end now... yes, I know we're only five minutes in.) "I'm going to blow your fat head off your lanky arse!" (Cripes, great grandmother has knitted me a wool man again! Thin body, big head.) Six minutes... can't I go now! [I should add before someone else does that Richards once held an interest in one of my scripts but I cannot be anything other than honest in my review.]

Kevin Howarth is a good actor but his role as the ex-army headcase who is intent on visiting some of his barrack initiations upon the boys and girl he stumbles upon is an inglorious one. So suspicious a character is he that an estate troop would never entertain him and possibly beat the crap out of him. He gurns compensatorily as if aware he has to put a little more into this film because about him there is little else. The young actors are not bad and Amy Harvey, the only female cast member, says the most with smallest shifts in expression, but the material they work with is lank and unbecoming to their abilities. There is a feel of a school play or a public information film made by a teenager's workshop or a risqué Children's Film Foundation mistake... none of which would appeal. The music sounds like incidental music for Barney Miller reinterpreted by some rap team. There is nothing to like about Summer Scars and not much to report on it. The 75-minute running time given is dishonesty, but even the true 68 minutes is endless.

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