Starring: Ashley Green, Barbara Niven, Pete Mooney, Stephen McHattie

Director: Lee Demarbre

Writer: Christine Conradt and Sean Hogan

E1 Entertainment

The Plot: Hardened teen Summer (Ashley Green: New Moon) leaves home to find the father her mother told her had died. Her travels take her to a small town where a run-in with the law has her looking to the charming Tom (Pete Mooney) for protection. They hit it off and hook up, but Summer soon finds herself victim to Tom’s obsession: chaining girls up in his basement “garden.”

But the rotten apple hasn’t fallen far from the poisoned tree: Tom’s travelling salesman/serial killer father Gant (Stephen McHattie: Pontypool) is on his way home, which will likely complicate the incestuous relationship Tom has going on with his mother Gaia (Barbara Niven).

The Verdict: The DLB’s expectations were decidedly low for this straight-to-DVD thriller which sells itself as a low-rent torture porn (“Captured girl becomes part of psycho’s literal torture garden! News at 11!”), albeit with the tween-friendly presence of Greene (Alice from the Twilight films) softening the more exploitive aspects of the premise.

But Summer’s Moon turns out to be an amiable timewaster, elevated by mostly decent performances (especially by an off-the-leash McHattie) and believable family dynamics between Niven, Mooney and McHattie. A final act plot twist is predictable but believable, making the dysfunctional family theme all the more powerful and relevant.

Accusations of misogyny (women are tortured and killed) ring somewhat hollow as the female characters here are generally the most complex and compelling (minus Greene’s Summer ironically enough), and the “battered wife” behaviour of Summer and Gaia rings true given their treatment by Tom and Gant. It’s not high-brow social commentary by any means but a compelling argument against the moral righteousness of “family first” proselytizers.

There’s nary a scare to be had here, but McHattie brings a good amount of creepiness to what could have been a half-hearted exploitation exercise.

Rating: 6/10

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