“Dead of Summer” is a campy new horror, mystery series that debuts on Freeform this June 28. Created by Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz and Ian B. Goldberg, the story follows a group of camp counselors who stumble into a small town filled with demon worshippers and disgruntled ghosts.
Variety’s TV critic Sonia Saraiya writes, “The teen horror series is loaded with clichés, but with enough popcorn, it might make for a fun summer fling.” She notes that the first episode is “astonishingly bad” and includes “bland protagonist Amy.” “At the very least, while escaping the dog days of summer inside with the air-conditioning, there’s plenty of fun to be had in laughing at how bad it is,” she concludes.
“‘Dead of Summer’ is just run-of-the-mill unintentionally bad — a mishmash of genres and structures and stock characters that maybe aspires to something original and falls flat,” writes The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg. “After watching three episodes, I’m not all that interested in seeing if its badness becomes meta.” Clearly not a fan, he does hopes that the series achieves some low level of “Scooby-Doo”-ishness to make it better, “Somebody else will have to let me know if Shaggy and Scooby end up unlocking the secrets of ‘Dead of Summer,’ a twist that would make the series understandable, but not better.”
Mary McNamara of The Los Angeles Times asks, “How bad could it be?” Her response: “Very bad, as it turns out. And not just very bad, but very bad in a completely uninteresting way. Which is the worst.” She notes that the series lacks creativity, isn’t scary or satirical and is “dead on arrival.”
The negative reviews continue with NY Times critic Mike Hale, who calls the series “murky.” Like previous critics, he is not amused by the first three episodes, which contain various flashback scenes, “This mélange of styles may be intentional, but it fails to cohere into anything amusing or frightening.”
The A.V. Club’s Alex McCown gave the series a C, writing that it’s entertaining, but not for the intended reasons. “‘Dead Of Summer’ is a mess, but it’s the kind of mess that allows for a degree of back-handed enjoyment at the absurdity of it all.” McCown adds, “The avowed lack of subtext and commitment to delivering every characterization and plot twist (or red herring) in the most straightforward manner possible makes for a a suitably binge-able series, but it’s so airy and weightless that you might forget all that’s come before during the wait between episodes.”
“Dead of Summer” airs Tuesdays on Freeform.