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Review: ‘We Summon the Darkness’ is a Momentary Fix for Horror Fans

April 1, 2020
4 min read

‘We Summon the Darkness’ is more like a slasher parody that tries to upend all the common stereotypes of such films through some early twists and turns in its storyline. Although it can be touted as a fresh new take on the “cult slasher” sub-genre, it is pretty run-of-the-mill stuff. There’s gallons of blood, a sizable body count, and all of this, with a tinge of a retro-styled 80s setup.

‘We Summon the Darkness’ seems to derive a lot of its humor from its brain-dead characters and their reversed roles. Its first half generates enough suspense to keep you hooked, but once that is out-of-the-way, it comes off as nothing more than a slasher staple. Because of its decent cast and production, ‘We Summon the Darkness’ is cut above your regular fare of gorefests that solely rely on luring viewers with cheap thrills. However, it’s a far cry from genre classics like ‘Halloween‘ or even ‘Scream.’

We Summon the Darkness Plot Summary

Directed by Mark Mayers and written by Alan Tereza, ‘We Summon the Darkness’ starts out with some mild foreshadowing on what potentially lies ahead—Alexandra Daddario’s character, Alexis, blazes out some 80 rock music with her two friends, Val and Bev, as they make their way to a metal concert. During all of this, it is revealed that a satanic cult killing has been going on all around them. Seemingly naive, the girls bond with three boys at the concert and later head to Alexis’ grand country home for an after-party. But soon their night of youthful debauchery takes a twisted turn, and Alexis’ secluded home turns into a slaughterhouse.

We Summon the Darkness Review

Almost intentionally, ‘We Summon the Darkness’ initially makes you believe that it’s your standard horror fare by involving every horror clichè you can imagine. You’ve got three attractive young women who act dumb and reckless, and you’ve also got an underlying series of gruesome murders that have gripped the city. But just when you start believing that you already know what’s about to happen, it subtly shifts its tone into a whole new direction and still keeps you guessing. Even its big reveal is not as abrupt if you’re paying enough attention to all the details that are thrown at you from the beginning.

The performances in the film are never subtle, but that itself adds a layer of charm to its dark humor setup. None of the characters draw you in, though Alexandra Daddario, Keean Johnson, and Maddie Hasson are pretty endearing in their roles. On the other hand, there are other characters who seem to have been dropped off from another movie, seemingly reading their lines from cue cards. Surprisingly, Johnny Knoxville proves to be somewhat of a standout among all the other cast members even though he only shows up in the final moments of the film.

Apart from its major mid-runtime twist and its stylistic aping of slashers-gone-by, ‘We Summon the Darkness’ is pretty linear. Half the time it makes you wonder how its underlying cult murders will come in tandem with the main narrative, and the remaining time, once its “satanic panic” sets in, you’re left guessing who’ll live or die. From this point on, the narration is only driven by its action, which brims with satanic symbols on walls, fistfights, and of course, a whole lot of slashing. Because of its limited runtime, even its tonal shift during the twist does not really work too effectively as its mystery element is underplayed during its first half.

In the end, the way it unfolds, it just manages to first baffle you, then confuse you a little, and then eventually end on a bittersweet note. That said, ‘We Summon the Darkness’ is a fun watch that works more as a momentary fix for slasher junkies. It is well-accomplished in a way it harkens back to other similar films of the genre and often uses cross-references for self-mockery. Overall, of all the mainstream slasher horrors out there, this one is a little refreshing, as it seemingly takes chances to present something off the books. Beneath all of its gore and violence, is a mildly intriguing sense of intelligence that may appeal to some viewers. Like many other similar films, it is, at times, unappealing and flat, but it perfectly manages to blur the lines between humor and horror by not confining itself to either of the two genres. Not to mention, its early heavy metal motifs are quite appreciable.

Rating: 2.5/5

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