Energetic and Entertaining We Summon the Darkness (2020) Rocks Its Way to Streaming Platforms
Title: We Summon the Darkness
First Wide Release: April 10th, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Marc Meyers
Writer: Alan Trezza
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Starring: Alexandria Daddario, Maddie Hasson, Johnny Knoxville
Where to Watch: $6.99 on Amazon Prime, Apple, and Vudu
After a long road trip, three young women befriend three young musicians at a heavy-metal show and set off to one of their houses for an after-party. Determined to keep the party going, the group gets the alcohol pouring and begin getting more comfortable with each other. One game of “Never Have I Ever” later and things take a more sinister turn. Set in 1989 Indiana, We Summon the Darkness is a fun throwback film that was clearly made with a lot of love.
We Summon the Darkness sinks its teeth deep into the satanic panic of the late ‘80s. My favorite aspect of this film is the use of dialogue. Much of the dialogue, in the beginning, is great foreshadowing to the events that will make up the bulk of the second and third act. Additionally, the dialogue exchanged between characters is hysterical, especially once the action really gets going. While not terribly original, We Summon the Darkness brings enough new ideas to the table to keep the film feeling fresh and engaging throughout the onscreen calamity.
Everyone in the cast of We Summon the Darkness gives capable and sturdy performances. Alexandra Daddario and Maddie Hasson, who play Alexis and Val respectively, are notable standouts. Daddario flexes her range and command of the screen between scenes, channeling the many different energies and emotions that are required of her with finesse. Hasson’s Val is absolutely electric and a true joy to watch come to life onscreen. Both of their performances absolutely elevate We Summon the Darkness and it would not be the same without their talent.
We Summon the Darkness holds a grainy yet refined aesthetic. It is always a challenge to make period pieces feel genuine, but We Summon the Darkness feels like it hit it right with its retro set, score, and costume design. Several tv and radio bits pop up here and there that transported me into the time period while simultaneously moving the plot forward. There were also some pretty inspired shots here and there. My favorite is a long pan over a blood-stained driveway that is equal parts visually pleasing and narratively informative. Overall, We Summon the Darkness is a visually sound and cohesive film.
The technical aspects of We Summon the Darkness showcase competence without feeling the need to strive for innovation. Scenes felt like they naturally progressed and melded together in a way that made sense. Most of the effects work done is of the standard slice-and-dice variety without seeking to push any boundaries. This was a good choice as it could have easily taken viewers out of the experience if they were subjected to anything too cartoonish. One scene involving fire did verge into that territory, but it was admittedly ridiculous enough to elicit more laughter rather than eye rolls.
From what I understand, We Summon the Darkness is director Marc Meyer’s first foray into horror. If that is true, his first attempt was not only commendable but indicative that he could be a rising talent in the genre. Meyers shows great skill in straddling the lines of camp and tension, which is necessary for a film like We Summon the Darkness. My main complaint regarding the film is rather minor; I wish that we had more time to get to know our characters a little more before the carnage ensues, but I suppose it would not have made too much of a difference in the final product.
This next paragraph will contain spoilers, if you haven’t checked out this film yet, please skip ahead to the final paragraph for a summary and overall opinion of the film.
A story of wolves in sheep’s clothing, We Summon the Darkness warns viewers about the dangers of weaponizing innocence and controlling narratives. Less than halfway through the film, we learn that the women we originally meet and assume to be the night’s victims are actually devotees of a church set out to commit mass murders and falsely attribute the slayings to heavy metal fans and Satanists. Drawing parallels to the manufactured crisis that the satanic panic of the ‘80s was, We Summon the Darkness feels particularly poignant in an age of social media where narratives can be developed by the adept distortion and omission of facts in favor of a particular point of view. Tying this message with organized religion is, as the youth might say, *chef’s kiss*.
I had a great time watching We Summon the Darkness. It is a goofy film that I suspect has a high re-watchability factor to it. At times jumpy but more often side-splitting, We Summon the Darkness is not afraid to just have fun with the audience. Anyone with a love for horror comedies or more action-oriented horror will feel right at home when watching. Great performances, great gags, and a great time, We Summon the Darkness is the perfect thing to summon to your streaming watchlist whenever you need something to make you laugh and squirm.
Overall Score? 7/10