Wednesday, August 26, 2015

THE SUMMER HOUSE (2014)

THE SUMMER HOUSE (2014) 
Label: Artsploitation Films 
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 95 Minutes
Audio: German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with Optional English SDH Subtitles
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Curtis Burz 
Cast: Sten Jacobs, Anna Altmann, Jaspar Fuld, Nina Splettstösser 

Artsploitation continue their streak of challenging and thoughtful world cinema with this dark German import, the psychological thriller The Summer House (2014) starring Sten Jacobs as an affluent family man Markus Larsen, a man with aberrant sexual proclivities, namely obsessing over his business partner's 12-year old son. Mark's long suffering wife Christine (Anna Altmann) longs for his absent touch, but when he not meeting strange men for cheap sex he is often hidden away at the families summer home, alone with adolescent boy who is now the object of his untoward affection. In the middle we have his young daughter Elisabeth (Nina Splettstosser) who is budding and beginning to grapple with her own sexuality, with a detached mother and a deviant father what will become of this young woman, meanwhile her father's dark obsession threatens to come to light and destroy the family. 

Jacobs has an odd look about him that suits the role perfectly, his eyes are maybe a little too close together, think of Dexter Morgan from the Showtime show Dexter, both share similar features but he's a bit more doughy around the middle and with the aforementioned closeness of the eyes, and like Morgan he is a family man with something to hide, but as challenged as my morality might be I cannot ever see getting behind the character of Markus, so to speak. The wife as played by Altmann is a suffering woman screaming from the inside for the attentions of her husband, she's bitter and cold, her interaction with her daughter are strained and awkward. The daughter herself is coming of age, or at least at the age when boys begin to take notice of young woman and vice versa, she challenges her mother and is questioning of her father, who on the surface seems loving and attentive, but at the same time is not above leaving her alone in the car while he runs inside a lovers apartment to make a throat-deposit.


The victim, a 12-year old boy, the son of a business partner, the arrangement is sketchy and you know that this sort of thing just cannot go undetected for long, but they way it is resolved was a bit of a shocker, as the victim turns the tables on the sexual but the outcome  may not be what he desired, it's a bit of a shock ending but it's played very flat and it will have you stare on in disbelief much as the earlier scenes will, it's a sad and dark story indeed.

Audio/Video: The DVD disc from Artsploitation looks fantastic and would make a great Blu-ray release at some point, crisp vibrant colors, the usual artful cinematography we've come to expect from Artsploitation minus the feverish dream like quality many of the titles share, which is quite an accomplishment, creating such a consistent aesthetic among the various directors and cinematographers, they have a vision and have stayed true to it, while many of the films share little by way of plot and narrative the visual consistency has remained true though and through. The German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio is crisp and clean with good stereo separation, optional English SDH subtitles are included. 



The disc comes loaded with extras including deleted and extended scene, plus an alternate ending, one that doesn't stray very far from the original but is a variation. Additionally there are about an hours worth of interviews with Director Curtis Burz, Composer Bastian Schick, Cinematographer Peter Serbera and Actors Sten Jacobs and Anna Altmann, quite a wealth of extras on this one. 



Special Features:

- First Rehearsal - The Dinner (7 Mins) 
- Alternate Ending (9 Mins)  
- Deleted Scenes (7 Mins) 
- Extended Scenes (11 Mins) 
- Interview with Director Curtis Burz (21 Mins) 
- Interview with Cinematographer Peter Serbera (7 Mins) 
- Interview with Compsoer Bastian Schick (8 Mins) 
- Interview with Actor Sten Jacobs (14 Mins) 
- Interview with Actress Anna Altmann (7 Mins) 
- The Summer House Trailer (3 Mins)
- Cast and Crew interviews
- Artsploitation Trailers: Der Samurai (2 Mins), Cub (2 Mins), Reckless (2 Mins), Horsehead (2 Mins) 

The Summer Home is a slow burning meditation of an aberrant middle class family that dives deeply into the world of pedophilia and obsession, along the lines of Stanley Kubrick's Lolita by way of Todd Solondz' Happiness, without the benefit of the dark humor. This one packs quite a nauseating punch, not all horror need be about visceral blood and guts, sometimes it's just how horrific and disgusting a place the world can be, you have been warned. 3/5

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