So who is stalking who?
“Dark Summer” is a great horror thriller about a teenage boy who is under house arrest after stalking a girl from school. Then he witnesses a horrifying incident that leaves an spiritual presence in his very own home.
The film stars the young cast of Keir Gilchrist, Stella Maeve, Maestro Harrell, Grace Phipps and Peter Stromare. It is directed by Paul Solet.
Latino-Review had an exclusive interview with director Solet on this project. We discussed about the paranormal research, the cast members and the spiritual themes of the movie.
“Dark Summer” is currently available on VOD and will be in theaters for a limited release on January 23rd.
Read the interview below.
Latino-Review: Could you tell me on why you were attracted to “Dark Summer?”
Paul Solet: There was something about that script that was so ready for cinematic interpretation whether it’s visual or oral. You’ve got this protagonist who was afflicted by all these things. He was deeply isolated. He got this sort of condition. It was this sense that the walls are closing on him. Just felt that this was really ripe for cinematic interpretation.
The other thing that really struck me about it was—I remembered on what it was like being a teenager. It was how on everything felt so important. Everything was bigger. It felt so massive. Every relationship. Every possibility. Every rejection. Everything just felt so big. Everything vibrated with some kind of entity. It just sort of spoke to me. I wanted to explore with the camera and real serious actors.
Latino-Review: Tell me about working with such a young cast on this project.
Paul Solet: They were terrific. I read with everyone in town in that age range. It was a very exhaustive process. I could not be happier with Keir [Gilchrist], Maestro [Harrell], Grace [Phipps] and Stella [Maeve]. They were so good. They all grew up working and you could learn so much by working with them.
They were incredibly mature. Keir was wise way beyond his years and so were the rest of them. You’re working with peers. With their age, I really viewed them as my partners and my peers.
Latino-Review: The only adult who made a presence known was with Peter Stormare’s parole officer in the movie, who was almost like he was one step behind or a little bit incompetent. Could you talk a little bit about that?
Paul Solet: I wouldn’t categorize him as incompetent at all. Stormare is just an incredible actor. He always has a secret. He’s always with something that you may or may not know—or even necessarily need to know. He always has something up his sleeves. His performance is incredibly nuanced, rich and exciting in every single take. You’re always getting something and new possibilities. You’re watching this character and his performance evolve.
I just love Peter Stormare. I’ve been a Peter Stormare fan long before I met Peter Stormare. Getting to work with him was just so terrific. He was just a pro and there was a lot of levity on the way he works. He’s also very generous and focused. He really cares [about the job]. We went over every single line very meticulously. I’ve spent a lot of time working with him. It was just a total delight.
He brings something to that role. Y’know, that “it.” It could’ve been that familiar, but he bring something that is incredibly rich to it.
Latino-Review: Now the movie is full of twists and turns. One of things is present, which I don’t want to say it’s spiritual, but it had something to do with spirits and [paranormal]. Did you do any extra research? I didn’t realize all that information could easily be found on the Internet.
Paul Solet: It was certainly a movie about the spirit world. I’m also glad that you’ve categorized as kind of spiritual. That’s how I’m kind of connected to it.
As far as subject matter goes, it’s a subgenre that we’ve seen a lot. Some of the particulars of the story are things we’ve seen before. The place on where I plugged into was with this notion on being able to explore of the exponential version of being in love as a teenager. Like I said before, it just vibrates. It feels like everything. It feels like the end of the world or the beginning of the world.
What happens when you take that idea and you pull it into a genre space. You get to sort of peel it open and explore it on level that you don’t get to do in a traditional drama. I think from there it really ended up feeling like—people just connected to those characters. I felt like they just loved each other so much and wanted to communicate so badly—they were just struggling to say the words. It did felt like a spiritual exploration in a lot of ways.
As far as research as we’re concerned, there is a lot of information out there on demonology, conjuring spirits, contacting the dead and just about anything. This stuff is not new information necessarily. A lot of stuff is really quite ancient. These tomes on demonology, conjuration and spirit world goes back as far as we were documenting these things.
So yeah, there was a lot of research done. There was a lot of research from me and a lot from the art department who done a wonderful job. Ariana Nakata, the production designer, and her art director Sarah Pott, who really did a tremendous amount of work with everything you’ve seen in the movie. Then you have the artwork of Ron Pippen and Jason Alexander who are two of my favorite artists. Those guys did really elevate things on the spiritual level.
Latino-Review: Let me wrap it up with one more question—are you going to be continuing on directing in the horror genre?
Paul Solet: I’m attracted to stories and people. The genre doesn’t matter. I love horror movies. I love the horror genre in particular. It’s a place on where you could make up all the rules. It’s such a consistent universe on where you can play. You can do whatever you want. There’s something incredibly free about that. On an editorial standpoint, it ends up being a rich fertile ground visually with all this stuff happening not necessarily in the real world. It’s very exciting to me.
Probably the next movie I would do—is not a horror movie. There is a movie I’m not supposed to talk about quite yet. It’s an existential crime film. That will probably be the next one.
Latino-Review: Thank you very much.
Paul Solet: Great questions. Thanks so much.
“Dark Summer” is currently available on VOD. It will be in limited theater release on Friday, January 23.