Monday, 4 May 2020

WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS review

Indiana, 1988. After meeting three guys at a heavy metal gig, a trio of young women invite them to one of their houses to party. However, things are not immediately at they seem, and the two groups find themselves fighting each other to survive.


Alexandra Daddario leads the film as Alexis, a strong willed young woman who along with her close friend Val (Maddie Hasson) wants to see Beverly (Amy Forsyth) step out of her comfort zone and be more assertive with men. Having picked up three dudes in a van who share their appreciation of heavy metal music, Beverly sets about getting to know Mark (Keean Johnson) better, whilst Val and Alexis play a dangerous game of 'Never Have I Ever' with Kovacs and Ivan (Logan Miller and Austin Swift).

We Summon The Darkness sets its satanic panic stall out early, as Johnny Knoxville's preacher John Henry Butler appears on the radio following a report of numerous ritualistic killings taking place across the country. Tying the killings to the pervasive nature of heavy metal music, his words don't dissuade the three young women from attending the concert their headed to, or from picking up three random guys they know nothing about.

The first half hour is a fairly generic party film, just with more conversations about the ever changing roster of Metallica band members. It does shift dramatically during a drunken, campside game of 'Never Have I Ever', that not only reveals intimate truths but also the real motivations behind attending the gig. From there the film becomes something more reminiscent of cinematic Rooms both Green and Panic, as plenty of violence is doled out between them. Added to that, there's unexpected visitors that throw the whole night's plan up in the air.

We Summon The Darkness has a few good things going for it, chiefly the opportunity for Daddario to play a character that goes against the 'All-American Girl' perception audiences might have of her rom films like Baywatch and the Percy Jackson series. As Alexis, she's a domineering figure, pushing her friends around to suit her needs. There's also a fun, all too short appearance from Johnny Knoxville as a character who has more to do with the story than first appears. There's also a healthy dose of violence inflicted on both groups, and whilst never as gruesome or shocking as that on display in the clearly influential Green Room, there's still enough to satisfy an audience with an unhealthy bloodlust. The rest of the characters, however, do seem to be rather bland one note caricatures (heavy metal t-shirts and scraggly hair) that, although you're not necessarily rooting for them to be offed, you don't really care when they are.

Still, it move at a pace and has some fun, ludicrous twists and turns along the way. The 80s setting does offer a nice bit of texture, but the religious cult aspects could have been delved further into if it wanted to offer a true satanic panic movie. We Summon The Darkness may not be summoning any points for originality, but the cast are game, and it has enough going for it to make it a fun watch for those about to rock.

Verdict
3/5

We Summon The Darkness is available to rent and buy on digital now.

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