Imagine, if you will, all of the loser characters you have ever seen in the movies mashed together into one person and you will come close to the main character in “Summer of Blood,” the independent drama/black comedy/vampire film from Onur Tukel.
Erik Sparrow is the epitome of losers who somehow has a girlfriend of three years, a decent job, and in general has it pretty good. His personality soon catches up with him and he finds himself without a girlfriend, jobless, and alone. His attempts to win his girl have failed and the dating scene is just brutal. Then one fateful night Erik meets a stranger in an alley who asks the question, “Do you want to die?” The answer Erik gives turns his fortune around for the better. If it was not for the painful thirst for blood, things would be great.
Onur Tukel stars in, directed, produced, wrote and edited this very unique movie. I did not know much about this film going in and was surprised at every turn. The first fifteen minutes are painfully awkward as we are introduced to Erik. I do mean painful. Every word out of his mouth will have you asking, “Did you really just say that?” I don’t think I have ever seen such an excellent embodiment of Loser portrayed in a film as I have in “Summer of Blood”. The fact that the character is so bad makes the gradual turnaround of his character that much sweeter.
The supporting cast assembled around Erik Sparrow do a great job of conveying the thoughts that the audience is having. There was great chemistry between Onur and Anna Margaret Hollyman who plays Erik’s girlfriend, Jody. You can tell there is a history between these two and that Jody is always the one trying to make things work between them. There are a couple of scenes later on in the film where, as mad as she is, you can tell she still cares for Erik. Top-notch performances by all.
The film does deal with vampirism so there are a number of bloody scenes in the movie but not overly many. When they do occur they are done very well and at times have a comical aspect to them. The vampire effects are simple yet effective. I really enjoyed that the film does not get bogged down in spelling everything out and explaining why things happen. I also made note of the fact that unlike many vampire-themed horror films, the female characters stay relatively clothed. The only person who we ever see completely naked is Erik. Where it would have been easy enough to put this exploitative element in the movie, Onur took a higher road.
While there are a number of horror scenes it leans more towards being a drama with horror elements. There is not a lot of action in the film and the opening may be a bit slow but that is only because it is to setup just how much of a loser Erik Sparrow is. The rest of the movie carries along at a very steady pace with witty dialog. Pay attention to catch it all!
Onur Tukel has created a very unusual dramatic character-driven movie that may not be for everyone but fans of independent cinema will thoroughly enjoy it. It is perfect for this Halloween season. “Summer of Blood” is a crazy, original, thinking outside of the box, cannot be put into just one genre movie that is a prime example of independent cinema done right.
5 out of 5 stubs.