With its best twist spoiled by its own marketing and some unfortunate casting decisions, We Summon the Darkness is a throwback thriller that offers much less fun than you might think.
Sometimes you think you know what you’re going to get with a movie. We Summon the Darkness, with its late-eighties setting, heavy-metal hottie heroines and, according to a local tabloid, a spate of Satanic killings occurring in the area, seems like one thing when it’s really another. Unfortunately, though, what might have been a subversive little twist was spoiled in the film’s marketing – and what might have been a solid low-budget genre flick is nonetheless undermined by its wavering tone and some fatally misguided casting choices.
One of them is Alexandra Daddario as Alexis, the queen bee of the cool clique that quiet Bev (Amy Forsyth) has only recently joined and that Val (Maddie Hasson) also claims membership of. I typically like Daddario and think she has done good work elsewhere, but Alan Trezza’s screenplay asks a bit more of her than she can reasonably deliver. Johnny Knoxville, too, feels woefully out of place as Pastor John Henry Butler, an anti-metal televangelist who first appears on an in-movie television and later arrives in person, bringing with him the opposite of the intended effect.
All this stuff does give off a pretty spot-on end-of-the-eighties vibe, though, and once the girls hook up with male metal-heads Ivan (Austin Swift), Kovacs (Logan Miller), and Mark (Keean Johnson), the flirtatious, era-appropriate banter is a highlight even before director Marc Meyers, late of My Friend Dahmer, flips the script on the classic perpetrators and victims. We Summon the Darkness, at that point, becomes a classic menagerie of mayhem that isn’t as over-the-top or self-indulgent as it could or perhaps should have been to qualify as a debauched dumb-fun shlock-horror. Its own perceived sense of elegance results in some nicely-framed images, but less entertainment that you might expect given the premise.
We are fast becoming the number one independent website for streaming coverage. Please support Ready Steady Cut today. Secure its future — we need you!
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.