“This is no fairy tale.” So very true.
Just because you have a story where a stepmom wants to off her stepchild doesn’t mean you have to name it after a fairy tale. When you label something with Snow White you endow the project with certain expectations, and it is in this respect Snow White: A Deadly Summer fails most spectacularly.
Snow (Shanley Caswell) is a proud participant in grand theft auto and has questionable taste in boyfriends. Her father (Eric Roberts, The Dark Knight) and stepmother (Maureen McCormick, The Brady Bunch) are at their wits’ end and send her to a disciplinary camp. There, things go from bad to worse, as Snow’s fellow campers start dying. The camp is run by an ex-Navy Seal who doesn’t call the cops for help when kids go missing. Instead, he makes the kids do calisthenics in the hopes they will tell him what’s happened. Even when he discovers a dead body himself, he still refuses to involve law enforcement.
While the quasi-supernatural element (Snow has premonitions of her fellow campers’ deaths) never pays off as anything but a cheat, it’s the failure of the central premise which disappointed me the most. Nods to the classic fairy tale include the main character’s name and that her stepmother talks to mirrors…but not enchanted ones, so fear not. (In fact, “fear not” should be your mantra for this viewing experience.) But I digress, this is supposed to be about Snow’s stepmom wanting to kill her, right? Well, Snow is off by herself for a good portion of the movie, and should be easy pickings. Instead, everyone around Snow is dying and her strained relationship with stepmommy dearest is relegated to mere insinuation and background information for most of the film. Though I won’t spoil the twists Snow White: A Deadly Summer offers I will say they made me throw up in my mouth a little.
Presented in standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the visuals are often laughable, especially the painfully obvious night-for-day moments. Am I supposed to be terrified of a PG-13 movie taking place in the daytime? The Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix is serviceable though a bit inconsistent. Bonus features are disposable. The commentary by director David DeCoteau plus cast members Chase Bennett and Jason-Shane Scott feature such gems as being told when we’re seeing a stock shot. We also get a gallery of production photos and a trailer for the film.
Don’t waste your time on Snow White: A Deadly Summer. There are better low-budget thrillers, and better fairy tale adaptations.