Film Review: Summit


Christina Raia makes a decent directorial debut with horror psychodrama SUMMIT

With hundreds of independent horror films released each year, it takes a special kind of indie feature to stand out from the crowd. One film hoping to do just that is SUMMIT, a new horror/psychodrama written and directed by Christina Raia.

SUMMIT tells the story of five college friends, Jesse, Sean, Sarah, Will and James, who hit the road for a ski trip to Vermont. When their GPS takes them to the wrong destination, they decide to take shelter in an abandoned house overnight. But when they wake up in the morning, things are not quite what they seemed and it’s too late to turn back.

Inspired by THE TWILIGHT ZONE and John Carpenter’s THE THING, SUMMIT is the first feature length film by writer and director Christina Raia. The film made its premiere at the 2015 Manhattan Film Festival earlier this year, taking home the accolade for Best Horror Film and will also screen at Scare-A-Con in New York next month.

Considering its tiny budget of $20,000 (over half of which was raised through a successful Kickstarter campaign), SUMMIT is surprisingly good. Raia pays homage to the slasher genre in the film’s themes and setting and its innovative use of wide shots and foreground versus background will certainly look familiar to fans of HALLOWEEN.

While SUMMIT is described as a modern day slasher film, the narrative is actually prominently character-driven. Aside from the opening scene (in which a woman’s body lies by her abandoned car with her throat slit), there is actually very little gore in the film. Raia has chosen to veer away from gimmicky themes of traditional slasher movies to concentrate on the characters. As hunger, cold and hysteria starts to set in, the tension between the five college friends comes to a head as they question their relationship and slowly start to turn on each other.

Five aspiring actors, Lauren A. Kennedy, Ryan Kramer, Ricardo Manigat, Rob Ceriello, and Emma Barrett, star as the friends who ending up having a very bad vacation. While they all pull of a convincing performance, Lauren A. Kennedy as Jesse and Emma Barrett as Sarah particularly stand out, with their understated performances stealing the show.

Yet, despite its engrossing plot and quick-witted dialogue, SUMMIT isn’t without its flaws. The sound is a little dodgy in parts and the background music could have been put to better use, but what it lacks in polish it certainly makes up for in creativity with Raia cleverly playing with tension and slow-pacing to produce a suspenseful thriller that will both shock and unsettle you.

The film ends with an explosive climax and an intriguing twist that is sure to take you by surprise. All in all, SUMMIT is impressive indie horror/drama that is eerie, suspenseful and surprising original. A decent directorial debut by Christina Raia.

SUMMIT will be available on VOD platforms from January 2016.