Saturday, September 6, 2008


Still bearing the guilt and the grief of her twin Sophie’s suicide, Megan Thomas (Point Pleasant’s Elisabeth Harnois) takes a trip to her parents’ house on Nowell Lake in Louisiana, for the traditional celebration of St. John’s Eve, on the summer solstice.
This year’s celebration is the last of its kind though, as the Thomases are planning to sell the place, so Megan and her friends intend to have a last hurrah.
But something lurks at Nowell Lake, and Megan becomes increasingly convinced she is being haunted by the spectre of her dead sister.

That’s the basic set-up of Daniel Myrick’s Solstice, which, other than a creepily effective opening titles sequence, doesn’t quite manage to hit the right buttons.
To be fair, it is a good thing that the script (by Myrick, Marty Musatov, and Ethan Erwin) doesn’t degenerate into a pretty-young-things-being-slaughtered-one-by-one deal.
There is a mystery here, though it’s approached in a rather awkward manner, and the film takes a tad too long to really get moving.

Given what the film is ultimately about, there also seems to be an overabundance of characters here, many of whom are left to stand around with nothing particularly significant to do.
Among the narrative’s dead weight are Mamma Mia!’s Amanda Seyfried and Hilarie Burton, who joins the likes of her fellow One Tree Hillers Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray, as well as Harnois (who did a 6-episode stint on the Hill), in their transition to feature-length horror.
Those fortunate enough to have been given just a little bit more to do though, are the X-Men franchise’s Shawn Ashmore (as Christian, former boyfriend of the deceased Sophie) and 7th Heaven’s Tyler Hoechlin (as Nick, local Cajun boy who knows a thing or two about ghosts and magic).
R. Lee Ermey’s also here as Leonard, the creepy old codger who lives across the lake.

It’s that surfeit of mostly unnecessary characters, and the film’s annoying red herrings, that make Solstice’s script the major culprit here.
Which is sad since I was hoping Myrick (co-director of The Blair Witch Project, with Eduardo Sánchez) could convince me that he could helm an effective horror film minus any shakycam improv and with an actual script, as Sánchez did with Altered.
Instead, what we get in Solstice is a lukewarm ghost story that doesn’t really scare or thrill. Doubly sad, since there’s so much narrative potential in the idea of the solstice, of that temporal transition, where the barriers between the quick and the dead are weaker than normal.
Here’s hoping Myrick wins me over with his upcoming The Objective

Parting shot: A review of Eduardo Sánchez’s Altered can be found in the Archive.

(Solstice DVD cover art courtesy of; images courtesy of

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