Early in the film, a drill sergeant looks at our heroine and says, "I'll beat the white off your Snow White ass." This should be a good indicator that this isn't your average retelling of the classic fairy tale. As it turns out, Snow White: A Deadly Summer has next to nothing in common with the story it draws its title from. Director David DeCoteau and writer Barbara Kymlicka seem to be under the impression that they can toss in an evil stepmother and a gratuitous shot of an apple and distract viewers from what they are really serving up. This is just another soggy slasher film aimed at folks who are too tired to reach for the remote but not tired enough to actually go to sleep.
Snow (Shanley Caswell) is an average girl in the throes of teenage rebellion. She likes boys and fast cars and screaming at the top of her lung while driving around in said cars with said boys. You get the picture. She's also a bit of a daddy's girl which doesn't sit well with her stepmother (Maureen McCormick). After a nice Gollum-style chat with herself in the mirror, evil stepmom decides that she has to get Snow out of the picture so she can have dad's (Eric Roberts) affection all to herself. This means that Snow is sent off to a camp for wayward teens. Actually, two men break into Snow's room and drag her out of the house kicking and screaming while dad watches with a look that's a cross between disappointment and indigestion. I guess he paid for white glove service.
As soon as she's dropped off at the camp, Snow runs into the man who will be the bane of her existence. I'm talking of course about the ex-marine turned camp counselor (Tim Abell), who thinks that an ass-ton of sit-ups and periodic spittle-flecked words of degradation will take the unruly right out of Snow and her fellow campers. Unfortunately, rehabilitation is interrupted by early termination as the teens start dropping like flies. You see, a hooded killer is stalking and offing them one by one in a largely bloodless fashion. Now, it's up to Snow and her new boyfriend (Chase Bennett) to stay alive long enough to figure out who's gone a little insane in the membrane.
I understand that the world of low-budget filmmaking can be tough. Resources are limited, schedules are tight and everybody involved is going out on a limb by putting their faith in the project. In a case like Snow White, it is frustrating to see all that time and effort put towards something this starved for imagination. This film could have taken the kernel of the original fairy tale and spun off in so many interesting directions. Instead it spins its wheels in the muddy tracks left behind by all the other brainless slashers that have gone before it. Even the big twist of the final scenes falls flat since it has been seen countless times before in far better films.
Since the story offers no novelty, I have to look towards the performances to find redeeming qualities. In a role that is light-years away from her wholesome Marcia Brady image, Maureen McCormick has fun gnashing her teeth and giving us a dose of crazy eyes. Tim Abell is sufficiently hateful as the oppressive counselor but his impact is diluted as the film loses focus in its second half. Eric Roberts fares poorly among the adult cast members. He must have done this as a favor for someone but he probably doesn't like them very much considering how visibly bored he looks in his limited screen time. The teen cast members seem enthusiastic enough but fail to do much with non-existent characters. At least Caswell and Bennett get a few opportunities to emote as our fresh-faced leads...before they are forced to run around in circles, screaming their heads off.
I can't wait for the eventual sequel: Goldilocks - A Bear of a Winter. It could be about a blonde teenage girl who robs a family of hirsute hunters (wink) and has to flee in order to avoid her horrific comeuppance while taking a few naps and supping on some porridge along the way. I take it back. If that ever gets made, I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry.
The film was presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. The image was a little rough with moiré and shimmer present on numerous occasions. A number of dark scenes also suffered from poor shadow detail. In brighter shots, the colors tended to smear. Altogether, the image was watchable but its defects were not easily ignored.
The audio was presented in an English 2.0 Stereo mix with optional Spanish subtitles. The audio mix was adequate as dialogue came across with clarity but the background music was mixed a little high causing even simple moments to feel overblown and cheesy. At least, the audio presentation fared better than the visual presentation of the film.
The primary extra is an Audio Commentary with Director David DeCoteau and Cast Members Chase Bennett and Jason-Shane Scott. Given that the film barely has any connection to the tale of Snow White, it is somewhat fitting that this commentary track barely has anything of interest to say regarding the film itself. While all the speakers are amiable enough, they seem unconcerned with what is going on in the film as they converse about a variety of unrelated topics. After establishing the setting for the film and the idea behind it ('contemporary hip teen slasher movie version of classic Snow White tale') they launch into a lengthy discussion regarding Jason-Shane Scott's soap opera career. This slowly morphs into a discourse on how hard it is to be an actor in show business. While valid and interesting, this insistence on ignoring the film at hand will make some viewers want to switch off the commentary part way through. We close things out with a Stills Gallery and a Trailer (1:42) for this film.
I'm not sure if Snow White: A Deadly Summer really qualifies as a Snow White tale. With that said, I am fairly certain that it is not a good movie. It hastens away from any shred of originality and finds solace in well-worn slasher movie clichés...clichés that it doesn't even bother to execute properly. Maureen McCormick gives a fun un-Brady performance but that isn't reason enough to check this one out. Skip It.