WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS
(**)-VITO CARLI

"...the surprises arenít that big or impossible to guess for careful viewers.."

Horror By Three's

(090420) Heavy Metal, the occult, and horror have been intrinsically linked since Black Sabbath put out their first self-titled LP in 1970 (some say this was the first full-fledged true metal album.) So, it should not be too surprising that a whole slew of horror films have used metal concerts as backdrops or metal music on their soundtracks.

This included the cult made for TV hit, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1979), Hard Rock Zombies (1985), Trick or Treat (1986), Black Roses (1988), the Megan Fox vehicle Jenniferís Body (she was gigantic back then) from 2009, and Deathgasm (2015). But the best of all was the Spanish metal themed dark comedy/apocalyptic terror flick, Day of the Beast (1995).

Now along comes We Summon the Darkness, a spanking new hit slasher film with a twist that takes place (at least partially) at a metal concert. The film is currently streaming on both the Netflix and Amazon Prime platforms and even includes some quasi romantic/flirty dialogue about individual metal bands and musicians. It has been a sizable hit and it was on various Top 10 films viewed lists for a while, but I think this has more to do with its fresh good-looking cast rather than any great originality in its story. If you want to see a truly engaging mindless horror film with some of the same themes you may want to watch The Babysitter (which is also on Netflix) instead.

We Summon the Darkness was made by Mark Meyers, who was probably best known for his previous film, My Friend Dahmer, which wasnít half bad. He shows some promise with his work in this film (there are some good, well mounted scenes), but I donít think he has truly come into his own yet. Also, the way he meshes comedy and gore does not always work (Sam Raimi is much better able to balance the two.)

The main characters are a trio of Indiana teens/20 something women in 1988. They are constantly looking for mischief and cheap thrills. They seem vapid and essentially mindless, but appearances could be deceiving. Alexis (Alexandra Daddario from American Detective Story) is the rich, snobby alpha metal female. Val is her kooky, spontaneous buddy (played by Maddie Hasson from the HBO series, The Finder) who must go to the bathroom frequently and basically goes along with whatever Alexis wants. Beverly (Ann Forsythe, the Ontario born actress who was in Channel Zero) is shy, withdrawn, and morally conflicted which is not surprising since she is a poor street girl that the other two basically adopted. Viewers might be forgiven if the women's basic relationship reminds them of the main characters in Heathers and even more so the protagonists in The Craft. There is a leader, a follower and a rebel.

A few things occur in the beginning which foreshadow some future turns in the film. A front-page newspaper headline that agitates Beverly mentions how a series of seemingly Satanic serial killings is taking place near there, and a local wealthy pastor (who reminds me of Pat Boone) says he is going to pray in reaction. Alexis says something odd then. She argues that the story should only frighten other people and not them.

The three wild women meet up with three decent but dopey male metal fans at the concert. There is Mark (Keenan Johnson who was in
Alita: Battle Angel and reminds me of a young Chris Cornell), Ivan (Austin Swift of Braking for Whales and real-life brother of Taylor Swift) and Kovacs (Logan Miller from Scoutís Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.) The trio had earlier thrown a chocolate milk shake which splattered all over the girlís windshield (what gentleman).

There ends up being a bloody conflict between the two groups with at least one member switching sides, but if I gave away more it would ruin the film. Needless to say, the film has a few surprises, but the surprises arenít that big or impossible to guess for careful viewers.

Although I did not have a terrible time watching the film and with its hour and a half-length it went by quick enough. But cannot quite bring myself to recommend it. It was not terribly special, and I doubt I will remember anything about it in a year or so. But I would not be surprised if some of the people involved would go on to better things, and if you are a horror/metal fanatic there are many worse ways to spend your time.
 

Directed by:   Mark Meyers
Written by:   Alan Trezza
Starring:   Alexandra Daddario, Maddie Hasson, and Amy Forsyth
Released:   04/10/20 on Netflix
Length:   91 minutes
Rating:   R for bloody violence, pervasive language, some drug use, and sexual references

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org and www.chicagopoetry.org. His latest book "Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor" is also available.

WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS  © 2020 Common Enemy
Review © 2020 Alternate Reality, Inc.