Movie Review: We Summon the Darkness
Horror films are becoming easier and easier to make. I’m not saying I could make one, but considering the vast amount of horror films now available and the relative talents and independent charm they offer to producers, it should be no surprise that we’re now entering into an oversaturated market. We Summon the Darkness is one such film, its only real appeal to me being that Johnny Knoxville makes an appearance as an ominous preacher who strongly opposes rock music. Marc Meyers directs us through a horror with a typically midwestern American backdrop, dabbling in cults, heavy metal and hardcore beverage intake.
As far as horror goes, We Summon the Darkness isn’t all that scary. Its build-up feels rather slow and clumsy at times. We’re introduced to our trio of leading characters, and then another trio straight after that. The divides between the two groups become visible rather quickly, but it takes some time to delve deeper into these moments. Although this build-up is slow and rather boring at times, there are a couple of performances throughout that do stand out above the rest. Amy Forsyth and Keean Johnson feel the best prepared for their roles, perhaps this is due to the relatively engaging scenes they appear in. The chemistry between the six main stars feels fresher than most of its contemporary pieces, though. Writing that doesn’t pander to a teenage audience by trying to make each character a stereotype is a breath of fresh air. Although its story is predictable, its characters feel more realistic than most horror pieces.
By far the biggest issue with We Summon the Darkness is that most of the interesting moments or potentially terrifying scenes happen off-screen.
Unique presentations of somewhat interesting characters soon turn into a rather predictable series of events. It reminded me somewhat of Green Room, a fight for survival against a very human yet horrific enemy. With some better editing and more focus, We Summon the Darkness could have been a very competent thriller. It’s certainly not terrible, but with Alexandra Daddario chewing the scenery as if she were a supporting player in The Evil Dead and some rather flat direction from Meyers, there’s not all that much of interest on display.
Perhaps my music taste is preventing me from getting kidnapped by evil cults. They don’t exactly send vans of cultists around the back of Elvis Costello and The Attractions gigs, so I’m in the clear. We Summon the Darkness never finds it within itself to usher in some unique or engaging horror moments, but perhaps I’m asking too much of a film where Johnny Knoxville plays a preacher. A handful of good performances don’t entirely make up for a multitude of commonplace themes and tropes that do nothing to rattle the cage of conventional horror. There’s nothing memorable within, it’s a shame they couldn’t summon some good horror alongside the darkness.