Horror-Comedy ‘We Summon The Darkness’ Delivers Satirical Take On Cults
by Ben Martin
In 2017, director Marc Myers adapted John Backderf’s graphic novel, My Friend Dahmer, for the silver screen. The result was a horrific and dramatic horror biopic that was one of the most depressing films I’ve ever seen. Furthermore, My Friend Dahmer is one of the only films that’s ever made me sympathetic to a burgeoning serial killer. (You can read my review of that film here.) Now, Myers is embracing the lighter side of the horror genre with the new horror-comedy, We Summon The Darkness.
Satanic Panic spread like wildfire across the United States in the summer of 1988, and one cult, in particular, is leaving a string of sacrificial bodies in its wake weekly. Even still, this paranoia and violence doesn’t stop a trifecta of metal queens: Alexis (Alexandra Daddario), Val (Maddie Hasson), and Beverly (Amy Forsyth) from attending a metal concert. After all the head banging, the ladies decide to have an after-party with three dudes: Mark (Keean Johnson), Kovacs (Logan Miller), and Ivan (Austin Swift), whom they met at the show. But, once this sextet takes their booze-fueled party to the currently unoccupied home of Alexis’ daddy, Pastor John Henry Butler (Johnny Knoxville), the party takes an unexpectedly dark turn.
I must say, it’s refreshing to see an actual satirical horror-comedy in We Summon The Darkness. These days, the subgenre that straightforwardly mixes humor and horror is a rarity. Contrarily, the contemporary takes on this subgenre tends to skew into being a meta-comedy in which the films are commenting on the genre subset or just being a flat-out spoof. Such approaches have worn on me to the point where I’m tired of them. Therefore, I was thrilled to see the movie in review peppers absurdist humor and commentary on the Satanic Panic phenomena of the late 80s; maintaining its focus on the horror of it all as opposed to playing as a meta-narrative.
Alas, the setting of the narrative does present this film’s one major issue. Seeing as We Summon The Darkness is an independent film, produced on a lower budget, there’s only so much the crew could have done to transport us back to the late 1980s. Unfortunately, it seems everyone involved in the making of this seemingly forgot or simply did not care that it’s supposed to be a period piece. Such carelessness to detail was a real agitating sticking point for me in what is otherwise a fun watch.
While the inattention to period detail grates, the film’s cast almost makes up for that significant production design flaw. Aside from Daddario and Knoxville, We Summon The Darkness features a cast of mostly unknowns. Despite this, the entire ensemble has more chops than a butcher shop. Every actor in this picture fills their role in such a way that you feel these characters are real, as opposed merely being horror archetypes.
If you can deal with the late-80s anachronisms, I recommend We Summon The Darkness. This movie is a fun watch for any horror fan. Or, anyone who finds cults to be a strange and fascinating facet of society like I do. More importantly, We Summon The Darkness allows you to turn your brain off during these stressful times in which we’re all living. (And if you can turn your brain off, this movie’s twist will prove a little more surprising.)
We Summon The Darkness is Available For Purchase or Rental on All Major Digital Streaming Platforms, Blu-Ray, & DVD!