Cruel Summer (2015) Director Phil Escott Spills the Beans on his Chilling Tale of Teenage Violence

The Hothouse likes the look of director Phil Escott’s new movie Cruel Summer, a chilling but intelligent study of twisted teenage psychology and violence. Phil was kind enough to spare us some time to tell us a bit about the film and how he got started in film making, so over to Phil, what was it that made you want to be film director?

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‘I’ve been a lifelong film fan, I was that kid in highschool who would skip class and go buy a VHS and watch that at home while my folks were at work. I grew up on a heavy dose of George Romero, Wes Craven, Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and David Cronenberg as a result of a nefarious market vendor who didn’t mind selling tapes to  an underage kid. I didn’t train as a film student, I was self-taught due to the availability of consumer grade cameras like DSLRs, which eventually landed me camera operator gigs for the like of The Asylum, as well as helping to produce extra features for Arrow Video. I’m inspired by everything from Grindhouse to Arthouse – so the list is vast! Korean and European films hold a special place in my heart though, the likes of Ulrich Seidl, Bruno Dumont, Claire Denis and Bong Joon-ho, Kim Ji-woon and Park Chan-wook have all greatly inspired me.’

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And so on to Cruel Summer, can you tell our readers a bit about the film without giving too much away?

Cruel Summer charts 24 hours in the life of four teenagers whose lives will be forever changed by the horrific events of that day.  The film takes place in an unnamed UK city, we didn’t want to give the audience an easy way out, we want them to believe that shocking incidents of, seemingly, random violence like this can happen anywhere.

‘We shot the film all around South Wales, mostly around areas where Craig Newman, my co-director, and I grew up. We were lucky to land such an awesome cast, Danny Miller, who plays Nicholas, is a household name here in the UK due to his work on a popular soap opera (Emmerdale) and Reece Douglas, who plays Calvin, had just finished a stint on popular BBC drama Waterloo Road. Natalie Martin, who plays Julia,  and Richard Pawulski, who plays Danny, were unknowns but they were more than able to hold their own against the more experienced cast members.’

From what we have seen so far, Cruel Summer looks like a pretty intense and disturbing movie experience that is sure to make viewers open up their minds and think, but what can we expect next from director Phil Escott?

‘I’m currently prepping my next feature, Rehab. It’s a murder mystery set in a remote rehabilitation clinic, it’ll be my little homage to the slasher genre by way of the giallo.’
Cruel Summer gets its premier in Cardiff on 12 December and should be on wider release, DVD and download in 2016.
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