Directed by Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer, 2017) and written by Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex, 2014), We Summon the Darkness is a horror-thriller set in the 80s – because, apparently, every horror movie now needs to be set in the 80s…
After screening at a few genre festivals in the later half of 2019, We Summon the Darkness is now available on VOD (I’d recommend renting it on iTunes or Apple TV, where it’s pretty cheap). The movie benefits from a big-name cast, which includes Alexandra Daddario, Maddie Hasson, Amy Forsyth, Keean Johnson, Johnny Knoxville and others.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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We Summon the Darkness – plot and twists [no spoilers]
Alexis (Daddario), Val (Hasson) and Bev (Forsyth) embark on a road trip to a heavy-metal show, where they bond with three aspiring musicians and head off to one of the girls’ country home for an after party. After the first act of the movie feels more like an homage to 80s comedies and teen dramas, We Summon the Darkness takes a pretty dark (no pun intended) and horrifying turn… if you’ve seen the trailer, you know what happened and why things get intense. In fact, I would advise to avoid the trailer for We Summon the Darkness if you haven’t seen it yet, because it both gives away certain key moments (including one plot twist) and it miss-markets the movie.
Since I hadn’t seen any trailer for this movie and I based my decision to watch only on the director – not that I love any of his movies, but I don’t consider any of them bad either – I had no idea where the story was going prior to watching the film, which made certain reveals very surprising and effective to me. Indeed, We Summon the Darkness features two big plot twists: one of them happens between the first two acts (and was ruined by the trailer), whereas the second one occurs towards the end.
Tricking the audience on multiple levels
Just to make it perfectly clear, I believe that subverting audience’s expectations is something worth praising in movies, especially in consideration of how bland and predictable so many flicks are, to the point you can easily predict how the whole thing will unfold within the first few shots. However, there’s a difference between being surprising and tricking the audience into thinking they’re about to watch a certain kind of movie and then what they get is completely different.
The trailer for We Summon the Darkness makes the movie seem like a horror-comedy, when it actually is a straightforward horror-thriller with a couple of instances of self-awareness. On top of that, Johnny Knoxville is in the movie for a total of 6 minutes, which is kind of fraudulent considering the prominent role he had in the trailer. On top of that, as I said before, the trailer ruined one of the key reveals in the movie for many viewers.
A below average movie with a couple of stand-out moments
In fact, the reason why I brought up the trailer so many times is that it could potentially affect one of the best moments in We Summon the Darkness. Not knowing such reveal beforehand, it made said moment very surprising and impactful to me: not just for its shocking nature, but also because it made the three leads (and their acting) much more understandable and believable.
Aside from that, We Summon the Darkness features a few solid performances and a great one: I know I joke about Alexandra Daddario a lot, saying that I enjoy everything she does due to how beautiful she is, but here she provided a truly great performance that elevated every scene she was in. Although the movie is very average from a visual standpoint, there are a couple of scenes that stand out in that sense and, overall, We Summon the Darkness is competently shot with no clear mistakes or clearly bad elements.
Leaving marketing and misleading trailer aside, We Summon the Darkness is not a bad movie but it’s not a good one either. Overall, this is just a very average horror flick with a couple of moments and elements that kept me watching it, despite my general lack of interest for the story, the visuals and the characters.
To me, the most memorable thing about We Summon the Darkness is that the sheriff who shows up at one point looks like a younger version of Danny McBride. It’s got nothing to do with the overall evaluation of the film, but it was kind of funny!
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