It’s important for movies that feature a twist to make it credible. That’s the biggest issue with We Summon the Darkness, a film that unsuccessfully tries to turn the tables on a familiar horror movie cliche.
The film is set in the 80s at the peak of hair bands. Director Marc Meyers captures the feel and flavor of a creepy, slightly campy 80s horror film.
Lighting is good, but just obscure enough to leave some elements up to audience’s imagination. The throwback score provides that old school feel of teen horror cult classics and the deaths have a abrupt suddenness to them that doesn’t allow for many cop outs.
Alexis (Alexandra Daddario, Baywatch), Val (Maddie Hasson) and Bev (Amy Forsyth) are making a road trip to a heavy metal concert. Along the way they encounter three guys at the concert Mark (Keean Johnson), Ivan (Austin Swift) and Kovacs (Logan Miller) who are ready to party.
At this point the film is rolling along just fine as screenwriter Alan Trezza sets the stage nicely for what’s to come. The first problem is Trezza makes the big reveal too early. It’s the kind of twist that would have played better at the midpoint and instead is revealed in the first act.
This forces Trezza to start throwing random, unnecessary obstacles that start becoming increasingly comedic. Worse it feels like Trezza is just killing time especially when he starts throwing in new characters simply to get killed. And to further complicate things, characters start make ridiculous decisions seemingly for the sole purpose of dragging out the waning drama.
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Trezza does have a potentially interesting idea about a killer church cult led by Johnny Knoxville (Polar) looking to gain followers by framing Satanists. That’s kinda twisted, but it’s an idea worth exploring in a horror movie.
While that premise could be played with a dark humor approach, Trezza leans too heavily into slapstick antics that largely kills the earlier atmosphere he established.
The cast in general is very good in their roles while Daddario and Hasson standout for showing commendable commitment to the premise. Daddario and Hasson have great chemistry and play off each other well as they navigate their character quirks like Alexis’ ex-stepmother and Val’s weak bladder.
Forsyth makes Bev the quintessential final girl while it’s Johnson running around half naked for most of the film as opposed to the typical horror movie objectification focus.
We Summon the Darkness is a frustrating film as it was just a few choices away from being a clever and unique horror film.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Photo Credit: Saban Films