Starring Shanley Caswell, Maureen McCormick, Eric Roberts, Tim Abell
Directed by David DeCoteau
If nothing else, and there really isn’t much else, Snow White: A Deadly Summer can lay claim to being unlike any other Snow White movie ever made. In part because its connections to the classic fairy tale are tenuous at best: the heroine’s name is Snow White, she has a wicked stepmother who talks to her mirror, most of the story takes place in the woods, and Snow eats an apple. More like she held an apple, actually. This is the least Snow White-ish Snow White movie I have ever seen.
The Snow White aspect seems more a gimmicky marketing ploy for what is really just a no-budget remake of that Mila Kunis movie Boot Camp (the one where she played a troubled teenager whose rich parents ship her off to an abusive rehabilitation camp for at-risk youth) crossbred with a PG-13 tweener slasher flick. The result is a barely competent barebones non-horror horror movie that is barely coherent and barely watchable.
Snow’s stepmom Eve has her shipped off to this wilderness camp for troubled teens after her mirror reflection convinces her that she’ll never get the total love of her rich husband as long as his mildly troubled daughter is in the picture. The movie could have been called Snow White and the Seven Delinquents. It also could have been called Snow White: A Deadly Dullness, but I’m getting ahead of myself now.
Not only must Snow now contend with a disciplinarian that clearly went to the R. Lee Ermey school of drill instruction, there’s also a murderer in a black hoodie systematically killing off the already miniscule detainees at this at-risk youth camp. Half the kills take place off-camera; the ones we do see are so uninspired they might as well not have been filmed at all.
Snow White: A Deadly Summer was the first half of my Super Tuesday 2012 David DeCoteau double feature. To David DeCoteau’s credit he has made a real movie this time and not just another homoerotic horror movie that’s really just an excuse to have guys in their underwear slowly groping themselves for extended periods of time or padded with endless filler. It’s still a terrible movie that doesn’t work as a Snow White movie, a teen thriller, or a slasher flick, but at least it tries to be an actual motion picture.
Well, it’s barely a real motion picture. The storyline is semi-coherent, sluggishly paced, and by the half-hour mark I was more than ready for it to be over with. The production is so cheap most of it appears to have been shot in a backyard with lots of woodland and almost every nighttime scene was obviously shot in daylight with blue tinting. There’s a scene where two teens are looking for a secluded spot for some late night nookie; they sit on a big rock out in the open in a scene so clearly shot in the day even the blue filtering can’t dull the bright light from the sun. The spirit of Edward D. Wood Jr. lives on.
I wouldn’t feel right calling the actors wooden. They’re at least bamboo – flexible yet stiff. It’s not entirely their fault considering what blank slates their characters are written to be. We understand Snow’s there because she’s been railroaded by her stepmom; the other teens have low-key personalities and their worst behavior probably wouldn’t even get them sent to the principle’s office in school. Why are they at this camp?
And then there’s Maureen McCormick as the wicked stepmother. You know – “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” from “The Brady Bunch”. Her soap operatic hammyness reaches it nadir towards the end with scene chewing that would make Nicolas Cage give her two thumb’s up. If the rest of the camp was as campy as her this might have actually been a guilty pleasure.
Instead of actually trying to come up with a way to make any of this gibberish gel DeCoteau instead cops out with one of those god freaking awful “Was it all a dream?” endings that rarely ever leaves a good taste in your mouth. Don’t go crying that I just spoiled the ending because everything about the ending is so spoiled it stinks like rancid meat. Keep in mind that Snow experiences psychic dreams about the various murder victims the night before they’re found dead; so it was all a dream and in that dream she constantly had dreams and even daydreams about the people, places, and things she was already dreaming about?
I wish this movie had just been a bad dream.
Speaking of dreaming, would someone please wake Eric Roberts up. His eyes may have been open and words may have been coming out of his mouth but I assure you the man was clearly sleepwalking during all two minutes of his screen time as Snow’s guilt-ridden absentee father.
1 out of 5