REVIEW: Last Summer (2013)

The most popular girl in school comes back to life after being drugged by friends, and makes everyone who was involved pay.


By Raymond Arcega
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Last Summer

Original Title: ฤดูร้อนนั้น ฉันตาย
Year: 2013
Country: Thailand
Language: Thai
Genre: Horror
Directors: Kittithat Tangsirikit, Sittisiri Mongkolsiri, and Saranyoo Jiralak

Joy (Pimpakan Praekunnatham) is a budding actress and the most popular girl in school. However, she seems to be having some trouble at home, so she makes a status update on her Facebook about how she wants to die. Her boyfriend Singh (Jirayu La-ongmanee) sees the post and suggests that they run away and have an impromptu adventure at the beach. She says yes without any hesitation.

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The next day, Singh steals his dad’s car and takes Joy, along with their friends Meen (Sutatta Udomsilp) and Garn. They drive to Singh’s beach house, where fun and boozing ensues. Later in the night, Singh and Garn drug Joy’s alcohol, only to see her suffer from a major asthma attack. Not wanting the drugs to be discovered, the boys hesitate on taking Joy to the hospital, leaving her to die on the bed.

The boys decide to dispose of the body, against Meen’s wishes. However, no matter what they do, Joy’s body just seems to keep coming back, even washing up on the beach after tossing it off a cliff. As a matter of fact, Joy is insistent on visiting the people she deems responsible for her demise, including Singh, Garn, Meen, and her family at home, and making sure they pay.

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A tale of a spirit coming back to enact its revenge on the people who did her wrong. It’s a story we’ve seen too many times in the horror genre. However, despite that, Last Summer was pleasantly surprising in a few ways that made it genuinely enjoyable.

Last Summer is a product of three directors taking charge of three different chapters in the film. The first chapter is the incident at the beach house, following Joy’s boyfriend Singh. The second centers on Meen, who Joy considered her best friend. The final chapter deals with Joy’s brother, Ting, and mother. Each of the characters are related to Joy’s unfortunate death, and each chapter has a different feel.

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The first segment was directed by Kittithat Tangsirikit, and uses lots of shock horror. It even throws some unexpected comedy, in which the audience is bound to laugh while waiting in fear for the next scare to pop up. The first segment definitely has the most energy out of the three segments, and is reminiscent of the typical teen horror films many of us grew up watching (I Know What You Did Last Summer, anyone?).

The theme of the second segment is jealousy, and while definitely not as energetic as the first, it was certainly eerier. The music and sound effects played a pivotal role to the atmosphere here, incorporating high pitched strings and notes to make our hairs stand on end. It’s also this segment that really introduces the kind of character Joy is, and how everyone saw her.

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The final segment introduces two new characters from seemingly out of left field: Joy’s brother, Ting, and her mother. We are introduced to Ting in the middle of the second chapter, but even then it seemed awkward bringing in who seemed to be an important character so late in the game.

That’s probably the only real thing the film could have handled better. But that aside, the final segment incorporated a lot more drama and coming of age elements, in which reconciliation is the main theme. It builds up to an ending meant to be a tearjerker.

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Overall, Last Summer‘s strongest point was its atmosphere. The combination of darkness, high-pitched music and sound, and clever camerawork make Last Summer all the more fun to watch.

Veterans of Asian horror films, especially those who have seen great ones like Shutter and A Tale of Two Sisters, might find the scares a bit predictable, but fun none the less. The change in narratives throughout the film was implemented well to slowly reveal each missing page in the story.

Not particularly a groundbreaking film in the Asian horror genre, but definitely a welcoming addition.


Watch this film…

…if you like seeing melodramatic moments in your horror films.


About the Author

Raymond Arcega

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