The Big Picture
- Hell of a Summer is a horror film that goes beyond just horror, incorporating elements of comedy and romance to create a unique and varied experience.
- The talented cast and crew elevate the characters in the film, making them the driving forces of the story and pushing the genre in unexpected ways.
- The film blends different genres and emotions, including moments reminiscent of romantic comedies, giving it a depth and appeal that convinced the cast to come aboard.
Horror films can embrace so much more than just horror. Comedy, romance, action, and much more can all be packed into a film made to frighten. For their directorial debut, Finn Wolfhard and Billy Bryk aimed for more than just a simple horror flick with Hell of a Summer. A throwback slasher comedy set at summer camp before campers arrive, the film pulls from both classic horror comedies like Shaun of the Dead and vintage slashers like Friday the 13th to create its own unique feel. Following the film’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere, the team spoke to Collider’s Steve Weintraub at our TIFF media studio at the Cinema Center at MARBL where cast members Fred Hechinger and Abby Quinn promised there’s much more than horror in the project.
Hechinger, who’s no stranger to horror throwbacks after his starring role in the Fear Street trilogy, put a specific emphasis on the characters in terms of pushing Hell of a Summer beyond the bounds of horror. Wolfhard and Bryk created a cast chock-full of comedic slasher stereotypes, including themselves as typical horny teenagers while Hechinger plays the obvious suspect, an eccentric older counselor conspicuously named Jason. Yet, he felt the talented cast and crew elevated the characters beyond what was expected, turning them into the driving forces of the story. While joking about what drew him to the project, he explained:
“That five dollars is very enticing. I mean, the simplest, first thing is it’s just one of the best scripts I’ve read, and so you read something like that has genre, but in service of characters where it’s like the people are what’s creating and pushing the genre. That’s very exciting. Then we met and I think it’s pretty quick to know when something is going to be deeply special, and that the group of people are going to be a unique ensemble of great artists, and that’s what this was to me. So it was very easy to decide because it was pretty instantaneously the thing that I think we all really wanted to do.”
‘Hell of a Summer’ Is Also a Rom-Com
In the midst of all the throwback slasher goodness and coming-of-age elements, Quinn had an interesting comparison for Hell of a Summer, saying “When I first read it, I felt like it struck a good balance of the horror and the genre, and then also—I don’t know if you guys would describe it as a rom-com?” It’s a sentiment that Wolfhard agreed with, highlighting just how varied his and Bryk’s directorial debut is. Despite being a fight for survival akin to the Friday or Sleepaway Camp films, it also has plenty of tender rom-com-like moments that show the film’s heart says Quinn. That willingness to blend genres ultimately convinced her to come aboard:
“Some of the scenes felt really quiet and sweet and reminded me of some of my favorite rom-coms, so I liked that it blended a lot of different genres and feelings and personalities. And then I loved meeting with them. I feel like I knew instantly even before reading the script.”
Hell of a Summer has no theatrical release date yet. Check out the full interview with the team behind the film below and stay tuned here at Collider for more coverage from TIFF 2023.