Review: ‘Summerland’ is an escape, but not from reality.

Surviving graduation is just the first challenge for Bray (Chris Ball), Oliver (Rory J. Saper), and Stacey (Maddie Phillips), three friends determined to make it to the SUMMERLAND music festival, no matter what it takes. Embarking on a road-trip in high-spirits, there’s more than just music waiting for them at the end of the rainbow. Bray has plans to meet Shawn, a boy he met on an online Christian dating site he’s convinced is questioning his sexuality. The problem? He’s been pretending to be Stacey, Oliver’s girlfriend, to get close to him.

Now that I’ve has some time to sit on this film, I realize that the entire premise is based on deceit. While centered around the premise of actually getting to a music festival, it is really a selfish trip meant to distract, take advantage of, and use Stacey, the only female character in the film. She is manipulated by her boyfriend so that he can have one last hoorah before being kicked out of the country on an expired visa. He delays their arrival to take in the sites and generally be kind of a douche. While that sounds pretty awful, it’s a great setup for dialogue and genuinely hilarious shenanigans that ensue. Directed by Lanykboy, a filmmaking duo comprised of Noah Kentis and Kurtis David Harder and co-wrote the script for SUMMERLAND alongside Chris Ball and Dylan Griffiths. But, that not the only plotline in this film. You’ve got yourself a Catfish story. Bray’s story is engrossing. While technically a lie, it highlights self-esteem and self-loathing. It’s coming-of-age realness that adds drama and intrigue. The dynamic between Ball, Saper, and Phillips is fantastic. Ball ends up being sympathetic but Saper ultimately does not. I guess that means Saper has done his job as an actor. He’s kind of punchable. Maddie Phillips is a gorgeous go-between. She is genuine and lovely. The ancillary characters in Summerland are hilarious and fun as hell. The film is an easy watch and authentically good time. Take it from Harder is also a celebrated producer on a number of breakout hit horror movies including Brandon Christensen’s Z, Rob Grant’s HARPOON, Colin Minihan’s WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE, and Michael Peterson’s KNUCKLEBALL. These films are incredible. Kentis and Harder clearly know how to reach their audience with what appears to be frivolity on the surface but in truth hits much deeper. Summerland is now available on VOD.