Synopsis: Three best friends cross paths with sadistic killers after they travel to a secluded country home to party.
Stars: Alexandra Daddario, Keean Johnson, Johnny Knoxville, Logan Miller, Maddie Hasson, Amy Forsyth, Austin Swift
Director: Marc Meyers
Running Length: 91 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: I find that more and more I’m an easy target for any movie that starts out saying it is set in the 1980s. Maybe because it’s the decade I was born and started to gain some consciousness (movie consciousness came in the 1990s, though) but there’s something so fun and carefree about the 80s that lends itself well to a retro bit of cinema. For comedies, it’s a slam dunk to set your film in the Carter or Reagan era of our timeline but for the horror genre it’s especially wild because you’ve then freed yourself from the technical advances of future decades that make being stranded at a remote location that much more easy to navigate out of.
I hadn’t known We Summon the Darkness was set in 1988 before I started it on early Sunday morning so it already began on a high note. In all honesty, I went into this one as blind as possible and knew nothing save for the synopsis that you can read for yourself above. That’s really the best way to go into this because it has a twist that I wouldn’t dream of spoiling and it’s revealed pretty early into the feature. Genre aficionados will probably spot it before the characters onscreen do but it’s a tribute to writer Alan Trezza and director Marc Meyers that they are able to keep things under wraps as long as they are able to.
Girlfriends Alexis (Alexandra Daddario, Texas Chainsaw 3D), Val (Maddie Hasson, Novitiate), and Beverly (Amy Forsyth, Beautiful Boy) have hit the road for a trip to a local concert. Stopping at a gas station for some refreshments they’re alerted to a rash of cult killings of teenagers that have been plaguing the area so the audience knows they have been fairly warned for whatever happens next. At the death metal concert they buddy up with Mark (Keean Johnson, Alita: Battle Angel), Kovacs (Logan Miller, Love, Simon), and Ivan (Austin Swift, Live by Night) and they all agree to go back to Alexis’ parents’ home after to continue the party. At the sprawling manse that is appropriately cut-off from anyone that could interfere, the six will go through a night of hell…but it’s not totally what you think.
The previews for We Summon the Darkness have given away some of the major twists and that’s unfortunate because going into the film without that knowledge made the lead up an enjoyable bit of suspense and misdirection. Being robbed of that would, I think, dampen the entertainment value so it’s up to you if you want to have that experience cooled a bit – I think you should just go headfirst into the bloody nightmare Trezza and Meyers have cooked up because it’s not only a lot of fun but it’s fairly funny as well.
As is the case with many of these types of horror films that are laced with comedy, the laughs start to grow old about as fast as the blood dries on the victims and it wouldn’t be fair to let the filmmakers off the hook and say the movie is smooth sailing. While there’s little spared in terms of blood, gore, and guts, the humor starts to get repetitive and grating around the 70 minute mark and that’s just about the time Johnny Knoxville (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) turns up as Daddario’s Bible-thumping televangelist preacher papa. Knoxville’s presence is not needed here as the younger actors are holding things down just fine (Hasson and Forsyth are both standouts) but he’s given a longer leash that required and he drags the taste level down a bit. Thankfully, it recovers nicely for a decent finale which pulls no punches.
Add We Summon the Darkness to the growing list of watchable horror films that are harmless distractions during this quarantine. I’m not sure we’d be as forgiving if there was an abundance of other films in theaters to watch…but then again we likely wouldn’t be devoting much attention to smaller movies like this in the first place. So, in that regard, I’m glad indie horror films like We Summon the Darkness are getting viewed at all. Meyers and his team are clearly talented and know their way around the genre, with some editing of the script it could have been even better.