Summit is a movie that tells a pretty simple story: 5 college friends head off to what is supposed to be a getaway ski trip but end up arriving at the wrong place, an old abandoned farm house in the middle of nowhere. Throughout the review I will leave out a couple key plot points because they could be seen as spoilers. I will just say the group gets stranded at the house for longer than they anticipate.
Other than a well written dialogue filled scene in the very beginning, Summit is a solid character driven horror with relationships between the group explored through conversation and actions and not direct, out of place, awkward sounding exposition. The group of friends is like a group out of Friday the 13th stopping at Camp Crystal Lake, except it's not as simple as a masked maniac chasing them down and killing them one by one. When they arrive at the abandoned house in the middle of the night and decide to investigate, they come to the conclusion that the GPS must be broken. With nowhere to go and not being sure where they are, the group decides to stay in the old house and try to find something nearby in the morning when it is light outside.
We learn early on that one character is a bit of a practical joker and this character insight helps the tension when the group is walking through the house at night to ensure there is no one in it. The audience expects a boo scare or a joke and although we do get one, it is early on in the scene and a minor moment. After that we expect a fake scream, a door to slam, or a loud bang all in the name of a joke but it never happens. The audience is left with several moments of holding their breath as the group wanders from dark room to dark room with the sounds of their footsteps on the dusty floors and the opening of creaky doors serving as the soundtrack. It's a great moment in the film and a promising performance from the filmmakers for creating such a patiently crafted and tension building sequence.
The picture itself looked great. The night scenes were dark with enough lighting to see the actors and the exterior snow scenes during the day were clear and sharp and not overexposed. While some of the group were exploring the outside surroundings of the abandoned house hoping to find a neighboring house or a road with cars, the endless snow and abundance of dead trees create a disorienting environment and feeling of never-ending sameness in terms of landscape. This highly increased the dreadful feeling of being lost and really added to the 'middle of nowhere' reality of the film.
This is where a greater horror than a masked maniac creeps into the group. Terrifying human elements are at play here as the group struggles to stay together mentally through exhaustion, fear, and no food or water. Their minds (some more than others) start to create situations that may or may not be real. Atmosphere plays a major role, this is a haunted house story without ghosts. The ghosts are the people inhabiting the house and the haunting is in their minds. This confused and clouded state combined with character developments and relationship complications lead to a boil as things spiral out of control and lead to an ending that could not have been seen coming at any point in the film yet was slowly built to from the first few scenes. There's an excellent sense of character and direction in the writing that held my interest the entire duration of the movie.
Summit asks what if? What if a group of people in the modern world got lost and couldn't rely on their modern conveniences like GPS or cell phones to help them? What if it was cold with no food or water? What would happen and how would they survive? Could they survive? I recommend seeing Summit if you are able to and watching this scenario play out in this well paced thriller/horror story that demonstrates the fragility and darkness of the human mind.