‘We Summon the Darkness’ Cranks Up a Satanic Panic [Review]
One of our most anticipated movies of the year, the dark-humored, heavy metal-fueled horror thriller We Summon the Darkness is coming to Blu-ray and DVD this month.
Directed by Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer) from a script written by Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex), the film is set in rural Indiana in 1988, when “hair bands” still ruled the radio airwaves amid claims from numerous frenzied right-wing evangelicals that some of their albums contained hidden satanic messages.
Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw 3D) shines as Alexis, the leader among her three best friends, and while she has always turned in fine work, this role really allows her to show us everything she is capable of. She’s cool, funny, and maybe a bit demented, but always immensely likable and believable. I especially loved Alexis’s upside down cross earrings, an homage to Angela (played by Amelia Kinkade) in the actual 1988 Halloween horror classic Night of the Demons.
Amy Forsyth (Hell Fest) is given full reign to give an excellent performance as Beverly, the new girl in the group, who believes she has found a real family in her two new friends.
Maddie Hasson has a blast as Val, the wild one in the group, enthusiastically supporting Alexis at every turn and encouraging Beverly to let go and give in to their extreme plan for later in the night.
Johnny Knoxville (Fun Size) is in the mix too, playing an amalgamation of all the sleazy televangelists that rose to power and then, for the most part, dramatically fell from grace in hypocritical scandal after scandal in the ’80s.
The three girlfriends are on their way to a heavy metal concert, to see the fictional “Soldiers of Satan”, when they hear a radio news report of a local murder that is believed to be tied to a string of satanic cult killings that have been happening across the country. On their way into the show, they meet three pothead buddies, who they invite back to one of the girl’s dad’s house to party after the concert.
As with the girls, the guys are also likable and quite believable, with Austin Swift as the de facto spokesman Ivan, Logan Miller as the loud mouthed party-ready Kovacs, and Keenan Johnson as the quiet drummer Mark.
Obviously, things are not what they seem at this point, and while I won’t spoil the film’s biggest twist here, I have no doubt many longtime horror fans will see it coming. but will still enjoy watching it play out, due largely to the stellar performances of Summon‘s three main female leads.
As far as being a “heavy metal movie” goes, it definitely could have rocked harder and louder, but at its heart, this is really more of a satanic panic deconstruction movie. It’s also technically a Fourth of July movie, taking place over the Independence Day holiday.
With some legit horror beats and a few bloody good deaths, the film is also darkly humorous, as the true circumstances of the event at hand are revealed, and unexpected guests like a local sheriff and Alexis’s stepmom eventually show up at the house and have to be dealt with. It all builds to a climax that, while predictable, is highly satisfying.
So sit back, crank up the volume, and dig into this fun and funny blast to the past, a lighthearted look at the silliness and complete hypocrisy of America’s all too common religiously”righteous” attacks on art that itself refuses to shy away from the darkness of humanity.
We Summon the Darkness a is out now on Digital, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD on June 9, from Lionsgate.
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