★★★★ out of ★★★★★
This eighties-set Satanic Panic horror comedy delivers surprises, shocks, and some darkly comic gags, highlighted by a spirited performance from Alexandra Daddario.
Directed by Marc Meyers
Trust me on this: Read on with my review — I’ve kept it as spoiler-free as possible, ergo the brevity — avoid the spoiler-filled trailer below, and prepare to watch We Summon the Darkness as soon as you can. If the recent trend of 1980s-set Satanic Panic horror comedies are your bag, this one should go straight to your can’t-miss list.
In 1988 Indiana, Alexis (Alexandra Daddario of Texas Chainsaw 3D and the first season of True Detective), Val (Maddie Hasson of God Bless America), and their new acquaintance Bev (Amy Forsyth of Hell Fest and the Channel Zero series) take a road trip to see heavy metal act Soldiers of Satan in concert. At the venue parking lot, they meet the guys who chucked a chocolate milkshake onto their windshield earlier on the drive: Ivan (Austin Swift), Kovacs (Logan Miller of Escape Room and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), and Mark (Keean Johnson of Alita: Battle Angel). After a bit of “no harm, no foul” payback on the guys, the sextet watches the concert together and then the girls invite the guys over to Alexis’ father’s house — and no, he isn’t home. The guys take the gals up on their offer, even though everyone in the group knows that there has been a spate of killings recently blamed on Satanic cults. As readers might surmise from the film’s title and the set-up, things are going to go horribly wrong for someone.
Working from a screenplay by Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex, which also starred Daddario) that is loaded with unexpected turns and gags, director Marc Meyers, who helmed My Friend Dahmer and Human Capital, strikes a nice balance between horror and humor with We Summon the Darkness. The first act nicely sets up the main characters and also introduces Johnny Knoxville (of Jackass infamy) in a surprisingly subdued portrayal as television evangelist Pastor John Henry Butler. Things start to get crazy in the second act, and by the third, psychotic events leads to a high body count and attempts at acts of heroism.
The entire cast does a fine job, but Daddario’s performance alone is worth watching the film for. I can’t go into detail as to why here to avoid spoilers, but she puts on a veritable acting clinic for her type of character. Rising to the occasion are Hasson in a similar role, and Forsyth in a more pensive vein. Johsnon, Miller, and Swift acquit themselves well, too, but We Summon the Darkness belongs to the ladies.
We Summon the Darkness worries less about sticking slavishly to eighties trappings and heavy commentary on religious fervor and more about having a fun, bloody time putting its main characters in peril and delivering in the darkly comic goods department. From Saban Films, We Summon the Darkness is available on Digital HD and on Video on Demand from April 10.