Escape from the real world with an 80s throwback horror flick. We Summon the Darkness is chock full of classic genre tropes. The fetching coeds, satanic rituals, and heavy metal soundtrack get a completely different take here. We Summon the Darkness does not follow the standard slasher storyline. The reveals come early. They are fairly obvious, but fun nonetheless. A literally dark ending had my eyes straining.
In 1988 rural Indiana, three best friends are en route to a heavy metal concert. Soldiers of Satan have loyal fans in the domineering Alexis (Alexandra Daddario), sultry Val (Maddie Hasson), and awkwardly shy Bev (Amy Forsyth). The girls turn off the news on their car radio. Mysterious serial killings have plagued the Midwest. As the death count grows, a local fire and brimstone preacher (Johnny Knoxville) blames the devil's music.
The beautiful girls attract the attention of their fellow metalheads. They decide to party after the concert with the quiet Mark (Keean Johnson), bombastic Kovacs (Logan Miller), and eager Ivan (Austin Swift). The group crashes Alexis' luxurious house while her parents are away. What begins as a booze and hook-up fest turns into a savage fight for their lives. They become the perfect targets for bloodthirsty killers.
We Summon the Darkness runs at a sleek eighty-three minutes. The brisk pacing gets the blood flowing early. A pleasant surprise is that the characters are well established. Screenwriter Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex) had previously worked with star and executive producer Alexandra Daddario. He gives her time to shine in the pivotal opening scenes. The girls banter and insult each other as they drive. Their dialogue and reactions create an early understanding of their friendship dynamics. These bonds become critical during the frenzied climax.
We Summon the Darkness is violent, but not overly gruesome. The film is thankfully not mindless torture porn. Have no fear gore seekers. There are stabbings and spraying arteries a plenty to suffice. The female characters aren't objectified. There's no gratuitous nudity. The script addresses what's expected of women in horror films. Then gives the audience a new perspective of girl power. This is the film's key accomplishment.
The final act of We Summon the Darkness takes place primarily in the mansion at night. The power has been cut. The characters face off with their attackers in dim settings. Poor lighting decisions by the filmmakers sabotage the action. These scenes were honestly difficult to see. The concept was to increase fright and tension. That's hard to do when everything melds together in a soupy black. We Summon the Darkness loses its edge with this cinematic flaw.
We Summon the Darkness is brief, but an enjoyable distraction. It's not a brainless horror film. The plot and characters were better than expected. The cinematography is dismal at times, but not a deal killer when streaming. I'd be more negative in a theater setting on a wide screen. Keean Johnson also sports a sweet mullet. All together it's a good enough respite from the onslaught of dire statistics. We Summon the Darkness is a production of Highland Entertainment Group and Fyzz Facility. It will be available April 10th on demand from Saban Films.