Hell of a Summer – TIFF 2023

Hell of a Summer TIFF 2023 Review Featured Image
The debut feature film from young actors-turn-filmmakers Finn Wolfhard and Billy Bryk is a horror-comedy that leans a bit too heavy into the latter, though it still has its moments.

Camp counsellors are offed one-by-one by a devil mask-wearing killer in . Jason () is a 24-year-old arriving for his eighth year as a counsellor at Camp Pineway. Jason is by far the most senior of those coming for the Counsellor Weekend, including Jason's friend Claire (), new counsellors Chris (Finn Wolfward) and Bobby (), jock Mike (D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), theatre geek Ezra (), wiccan girl Noelle (), film geek Ari (), vegan Miley (), social media influencer Demi (), and Shannon (), who has secretly begun dating Chris. Soon a killer sporting a devil mask begins killing the counsellors one-by-one and Jason finds himself accused of being the primary suspect.

Hell of a Summer Synopsis

Hell of a Summer is the debut feature film written and directed by young actors (Stranger Things, Ghostbusters: Afterlife) and Billy Bryk (Ghostbusters: Afterlife), who also star in the supporting roles of new counsellors Chris and Bobby. However, the film's central protagonist is Jason, played by Fred Hechinger (Fear Street Trilogy, The Pale Blue Eye, The White Locust), a veteran counsellor unwilling to accept he has perhaps outgrown the position. Jason's main confidant is Claire, played by Abby Quinn (Knock at the Cabin), who is the only one to come to Jason's defence when he is accused by the other counsellors of being the killer who is terrorizing them.

My Thoughts on Hell of a Summer

For better or worse, Hell of a Summer is very much a first feature by two people in their early 20s. The film is a horror-comedy retelling of the typical Friday the 13th-like slasher film, complete with all the characters being representative of typical stereotypes. While there are some clever moments, such as the killer taking advantage of a victim's peanut allergy, Hell of a Summer does lean a bit too much into the comedy side of the spectrum, with this type of plot being done so much better a few years ago in the film You Might Be the Killer.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.