We Summon the Darkness Review: Fun unexpected horror that’ll please any genre fans
After making a strange, but prominent impression to the horror genre with his 2017 hit My Friend Dahmer, director Marc Meyers follows up with We Summon the Darkness – a fun and sometimes overly over the top horror flick.
The film follows Alexis (Alexandra Daddario), Val (Maddie Hasson), and Bev (Amy Forsyth), a group of friends heading to a heavy metal concert in an area that has been plagued by satanic cult killings. At the concert, the group meets three aspiring musicians and invites them over to Alexis’ family country home for an after-party. As the night seems to go as planned, ulterior motives and deadly satanic undertones begin to consume the night and ends up turning everyone’s night into an unholy bloodbath.
The late 80s metal aesthetic gives We Summon the Darkness a more modern grindhouse feel that’s really awesome and makes the film unlike anything I’ve seen lately. From the kick ass costumes design of Alexis and her friends, with the upside-down crosses that Alexis wears being my favorite, to the overall feel of the dialogue and tone, the film really gives off the vibes of Tarantino’s Death Proof – and I’m all for it. It’s seductive, mysterious, and heavy in a way that makes you immediately enamored by the characters – especially when the film’s big turn happens at the end of the first act. The metal look also works in creating expectations for characters that the film eventually flips on its head and brings out some interesting themes about religious following.
Once the film makes its big turn at the end of the first act, the motivations of the film’s true antagonists are kind of unique in how they delve into religious horrors. The script from Alan Trazza is actually quite solid in delivering the kind of fun horror that any fan of the genre will love as well as some themes about blind followings in religion. There’s a major scene that occurs when the film’s real plot get going, which I won’t spoil, where the antagonist’s reveal how they are using fear in order to get people to adhere to their religious beliefs that’re actually kind of unique. It’s surprising how this reveal doesn’t come off as hokey or dumb as I thought it would and it’s likely because Trazza’s script is so solid and Meyers’ direction holds pretty strong here. Even if these themes don’t stay as strong or prevalent throughout the rest of the film, it does its job in shifting the story into unexpected territory.
Honestly, the film does a great job in creating characters that shed most of their stereotypical skins and has a story shift that’s genuinely unexpected. Now, to be fair, I went into We Summon the Darkness pretty blind, but even as the film’s direction becomes clearer as it nears the end of the first act – the film still finds ways to subvert viewers’ expectations. Alexis and her friends seem like your typical horror clichés at first, but the way they become these different and more dominating characters is something really different for the genre. Sure, the more stereotypical and cliché parts of their personalities still exist, but the performances definitely alleviate their more annoying clichés.
Daddario and Hasson are such a fun pair throughout all the craziness that happens in the film and their wildness and crazed beliefs are almost too much fun to hate on – almost. Personally, the film is a little too over the top in a way that the script doesn’t warrant for and a lot of times creates unintentionally funny moments because of how batshit things get. While some jokes, like Val’s small bladder and how the girl’s simple plan keeps going awry, are funny because they’re meant to be, Alexis’ growing insanity and their whole motivation become tiresome after a while. Not to mention, you almost become immune to their over-the-topness fast so by the end you end up not being phased by much.
Regardless, the performances are still fun, and the film is definitely a wild ride that will please plenty of genre fans. There’s plenty of fun and simple kills, horrifying motivations and consequences, and, even for it being too much sometimes, the characters are enjoyable. There’s even small, but solid performance from Johnny Knoxville as a southern pastor that’s hard not to enjoy. It’s honestly nice to even see a young cast just kind of let loose and have fun with an interesting horror premise and viewers will be more than happy to be along for the ride.
Even for being overly over-the-top and a tad cliché at times, We Summon the Darkness is another good outing for Meyers as a director and a perfectly fun horror flick that will please plenty of genre fans. It gives off the kind of modern-day grindhouse that I’d certainly like to see more of and subvert expectations in the right ways to offer viewers a different kind of religious horror experience.