Dead of Summer

Hi campers! Welcome to camp Still Water! This show was brought to us from the fine people over at the FreeForm network, formerly known as the ABC Family channel. Viewers are transported to the Wisconsin woods in the year 1989. It's a few days before the kiddos arrive and we meet Camp Director Deb, still setting up with the help of some unlucky young adults counselors. We are treated to horror icon Tony Todd as the mysterious Spiritualist ghost, Holyoke. He is still haunting around the grounds after his murder at the turn of the last century. What else can you expect? How about a ritualistic cult drowning, scary, old tin type photos, a scarified deer, wonderfully queer youth, and more death? That’s all in the first episode!

You may want to file this ten-episode offering in either your “Guilty Pleasures” or “Family Friendly” horror folders. Personally, I’m a big fan of teen oriented horror and I probably always will be. So naturally I had to binge-watch this thing on Hulu. Now I understand this show isn’t for everyone, but if you’re still reading thus far, I think it could be for you. The series has a nice balance of spooky, PG-13 scares and gooey feels to warm your black little heart - if even just a little bit! There are definitely some eerie scenes and imagery. I don’t want to spoil things, but there will be demons...and Satanists...and more murder. Oh! There's even a little gore! Not to mention some really amazing love odes to the late, great, David Bowie.

Be kind when it comes to the visual effects, this is made for TV after all. That being said, there were actually a few which were surprisingly good. The premise is a simple one: sinister things are happening at the idyllic camp. Each episode reveals clues as an ancient evil unfolds its plan. The audience and the actors creep closer and closer to solving the mystery and discovering the truth, with lots of twists and shocks along the way. Okay, now that I have assured you there is some horror to satisfy your needs, we can move on.

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The feels. As someone who does enjoy the “teen-scream” horror genre, I am pretty well versed in it. Nowadays, if you want to have your young characters show emotion, it sure as hell better not be too cheesy. All the camp counselors are fresh high school grads with real life problems. I can’t reveal too much, since their tough pasts play major roles in the show's overall plot. Meet Amy, a nice girl-next-door type who never went to the camp as a kid and is therefore an automatic outsider. Alex, the handsome chap who, we learn in episode two, is trying to shake his Russian immigrant past in a country that gets a little jumpy around eastern European accents. Other characters include Blair, openly gay and still dealing with it; Cricket, who wants people to see her as sexually desirable; Joel, a budding filmmaker with a painful family secret; “Blotter” is a former D&D geek who wants to seem badass; Drew is a Trans man, whose coworkers still don't know the truth; and lastly, there's Jessie. Jessie used to be friendly and kind but now just comes across kinda bitchy.

With the exception of some niche horror fans like myself, this show is really aimed at tweens and teens as something creepy (yet deep!) that they can watch with their parents. I like that people out there are making some cool content to get the youngsters introduced to our beloved genre. I can see these kids watching this with their parents or other awesome adult figures in their lives, and then craving more. Maybe they’ll like the super natural elements, or perhaps they’ll prefer the blood splatter and kills. Either way, I can see this as one of those fabulous gateway drugs youths can sink their little fangs into, thus starting a lifelong obsession.

~ Sandra (@LilMsMnstr)