A masked killer terrorizes the counsellors of a summer camp in this sardonic slasher-comedy, the feature directorial debut from actors Finn Wolfhard and Billy Bryk.
Hell of a Summer
Finn Wolfhard, Billy Bryk
Finn Wolfhard and Billy Bryk are no strangers to genre throwbacks. Having launched their careers starring in some of the decade’s most visible nostalgia vehicles (Stranger Things, Ghostbusters: Afterlife), their sardonic horror-comedy Hell of a Summer assuredly slides into the requisite rhythms and rituals of a 1980s summer-camp slasher, while adding a dash of the self-reflexivity that defined the masked-killer renaissance of the 1990s.
Starring as a pair of horny teenagers looking to score with their fellow counsellors at the rustic Camp Pineway, Wolfhard and Bryk join a veritable murderer’s row of would-be victim archetypes from himbo to mean girl, in a collective fight to survive the night after a slasher begins to wreak havoc the weekend before the campers are due to arrive.
The most prominent character of the bunch is Jason, an older, keener counsellor who refuses to accept that he has possibly outgrown the position. Portrayed by Fred Hechinger (the Fear Street trilogy) with an amusingly manic bombast, Jason’s eccentricity makes him the number one suspect once the bodies start piling up. Could his arrested development have manifested in murder, or is he your vintage red herring? His name is Jason after all….
No matter the twist, first-time directors Wolfhard and Bryk nimbly keep all the slicing and dicing on the lighter side of the genre, pinning a sincere heart on its sleeve, and not merely on the pointy end of a machete.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: violence, bullying, coarse language