Alexandra Daddario as Alexis
Keean Johnson as Mark
Maddie Hasson as Val
Logan Miller as Kovacs
Amy Forsyth as Beverly
Austin Swift as Ivan
Allison McAtee as Susan
Johnny Knoxville as Pastor John Henry Butler
Directed by Marc Meyers, Written By Alan Trezza
We Summon the Darkness Review:
Religion and horror have gone hand in hand since the dawn of the genre, with some stories seeking to defy classic belief systems in order to tell their terrifying tales while others look to find a way to embed these faiths into their storytelling, with successes including the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist and The Conjuring while disasters include The Rite and 11-11-11. One of the lesser explored yet fascinating angles of this subgenre is the Satanic Panic wave that hit the US in the ’70s and ’80s, and while some choose to set their stories in modern day in an attempt to connect parallels between the past and present, one film that smartly keeps it in the past is We Summon the Darkness.
Written by Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex) and directed by Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer), the film follows a trio of girls who head to a heavy metal concert and meet up a group of fun-loving guys on the hunt for a party whilst a wave of satanic killings rocks the country. After the concert, the group all head to the home of one of the girls, with suspicion underlying the night that the boys are the group of killers, but as the night progresses true motives are revealed and chaos erupts.
The film sets up the plot in a pretty routine fashion, introducing the characters with traits we’ve seen before including the party-hardy Val (Maddie Hasson), the shyer and reluctant Beverly (Amy Forsyth) and the mostly level-headed ringleader Alexis (Alexandra Daddario), with each meeting their personality matches in the loud-mouth Kovacs (Logan Miller), the quiet Mark (Keean Johnson) and confident leader Ivan (Austin Swift). But rather than feeling like a copy-paste job of the horror cliche guidebook, the characters all feel like real people and more nostalgic of the era the film’s set, with the macho personas the men all put on being true to the time period while the girls’ characteristics are certainly emblematic of the time.
Despite its initially simple setup, however, the film evolves into a relatively intriguing game of cat and mouse with a plot twist that flips the entire story on its head in a way that the marketing may have hinted at, but successfully kept hidden and it pays off. When motivations are revealed for the killers and their victims are forced to get crafty, the story becomes a thrill ride that feels like the right combination of You’re Next and Ready or Not, ready to embrace the bizarre nature of its situation while also revel in the gory goodness that’s to follow.
And gory goodness the film does deliver as the characters go to war with everything they can find around the house, including broken bottles, guns, knives, chainsaws and so many more, resulting in blood-soaked mayhem sure to thrill genre fans while not being so shocking it would scare away newcomers to the horror-thriller world.
The nostalgic and twisty plot and tense bloody action are supported by strong performances from its ensemble cast, who all perfectly envelop their characters and bring them intelligently to life, with Daddario leading the cast with another captivating lead performance while her female co-stars all prove to be perfect at delivering the right amount of terror and humor the story requires.
We Summon the Darkness may suffer from moments of predictability and not going far enough with its story, but thanks to some solid twists, gory fun and strong performances from its talented ensemble, namely Daddario, Hasson and Miller, it’s a thrill ride sure to keep genre audiences pleased and even introduce some newcomers to a world of terror possibilities.
We Summon the Darkness is set to hit Digital HD platforms and VOD on April 10!