Alexis (Alexandra Daddario), Val (Maddie Hasson), and Bev (Amy Forsyth) are a trio of punk-clad chicks on their way to a heavy metal concert to cut loose and enjoy the thrashing riffs of Soldiers of Satan. As they banter and detour on their way to the concert, however, reports come through of a satanic cult on the loose, murdering and maiming and leaving nothing but the devil’s symbols behind as evidence. As their post-concert party leads them and three boys back to Alexis’s father’s property for a night of drinking and debauchery, something more sinister begins to unravel.
More sinister, sure, but still fairly generic.
We Summon the Darkness
Director: Marc Meyers
Release: April 10, 2020 (VOD)
We Summon the Darkness attempts to turn its devil-worshiping world on its head with a key twist that I intend to spoil. If you want to go blind into this, suffice to say there’s not a lot that will surprise or impress most horror fans. Alexandra Daddario gives an intense and committed performance, and there’s plenty of classic metal trivia on display for the metalheads among us. That said, the first half-hour plods along, the dialog renders down to little more than characters explaining the plot and themes to each other in an especially preachy manner, and the violence is tame with at least one death that defies logic. It’s not quite a waste of time but also not really worth your time.
Now for the twist, because without it We Summon the Darkness leaves almost nothing worth talking about. Our three punk chicks are in fact the satanic killers, (gasp!) but they’re also not devil-worshipers at all (double gasp!). These women are religious fanatics who are simply murdering people in a such a ritualistic fashion so newspapers will run the satanic angle, a panic will ensue, and thus more of the scared masses will run into the comforting arms of their religion. That’s a potentially neat new angle that could add a refreshing twist to a slasher of this type. Unfortunately, its whole draw seems to be little more than an excuse for the besieged men at this trio’s clutches to spout about how organized religion is, like, the real cult, man. It’s not mind-blowing stuff.
It also doesn’t help that three evil women murdering and maiming a bunch of dudes who need to fight for their lives can ring especially tone-deaf. When you expect your audience to see a guy holding down a woman and strangling her as heroic, you’re going in the wrong direction.
Even with its turn toward religious women as a satanic killer cult, the plot plays predictably, leaving you feel the minutes crawl by, especially with few laughs and thrills along the way. Even when Johnny Knoxville at last arrives at the house of horrors, he’s not given anything especially fun or cool to do and feels like so much more wasted potential.
Most of the We Summon the Darkness can be seen as that. Its interesting concept and casting do little to make up for an underwhelming horror that spits anti-religious philosophy that might have been edgy in the 80’s so obviously that it’ll only appeal to the most self-conscious kind of atheist. If you want a right-wing vs. left-wing horror satire with teeth, check out Tone-Deaf. If you want some good sheltered-rich-people-are-the-real-devils type horror, go with Satanic Panic. If you’ve seen both of those and just want any new horror movie somewhat in their vein to put in front of your eyes, We Summon the Darkness won’t quite bore you, even if it’s a far cry from a thrill ride.