“We Summon the Darkness” – Movie Review

There’s been a recent trend in horror films based around the infamous “Satanic Panic” of the 1980’s (House of the Devil, The Babysitter, Satanic Panic), but We Summon the Darkness takes a unique approach unlike the rest. What starts as typical heavy metal horror becomes something else entirely.

While not all of these movies are completely set in the 80’s, they’re tone and style is definitely inspired by films of that decade.

Just Another 80’s Movie?
The film opens with Alexis (Alexandra Daddario), Val (Maddie Hasson), and Bev (Amy Forsyth) on their way to a concert.

Those paying attention to the background pick up on news of recent Satanic murders, as well as a telecast by a fervent pastor played interestingly by Johnny Knoxville.

Alexis, Val, and Bev meet a trio of guys at the concert, and invite them back to Alexis’ house to party in what seems like an ordinary night of fun.

Some of the best horror films start as completely different plots and even genres.

But after a game of “Never Had I Ever” takes a dark turn, the movie gets very interesting…

Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned!!!

Turning the Tables
The obvious stereotype would be for the men to pose a threat to women, but they’re the ones who drug the men for sinister reasons.

We come to discover that Alexis is in fact the daughter of the fundamentalist preacher, and she (along with Val and Bev) intended to murder the three metal heads and blame it on the dangers of Satanism.

All in a ploy to get more people to flock to their church. Alexis quickly kills one of them, much to the shock of Val and especially Bev, neither of whom really thought through the full extent of their actions.

Alexis unleashes all of her years of fundamentalist oppression and goes full homicidal maniac, while Val remains a semi-loyal sidekick, and Bev decides to help their captives escape.

Alexandra Daddario (who also served as producer) reportedly had a lot of fun with the freedom of playing a character as psychotic and homicidal as Alexis.

As far as kills go, they’re pretty standard knife and gunshot wounds. But this is not the area where We Summon the Darkness shines it its creativity.

Rather, it excels at giving each character more development, as well as subverting expectations.

Spinning the Genre on Its Head
It would have been so easy to have the male Satanist metal heads (who aren’t even actually Satanist) be the villains, and the unsuspecting female Christians be the victims.

But We Summon the Darkness flips these tropes and weaves an interesting story in the process. Here, it’s the extremist, uncompromising Christians who are the villains, and if anything, the film doesn’t take this far enough.

Johnny Knoxville finally shows up in the flesh at the end, and we get the sense that there’s a long history of brainwashing and trauma, as he very quickly sells out his own daughter, and uses her as a pawn in his sick manipulation of the public.

Sure, Alexis is our slasher villain for the duration of the movie, but from another point of view, she’s very much a victim herself.

Despite being on the poster, Knoxville is in this very little, and it’s a shame.

Overall, We Summon the Darkness is a fun exercise in metal/Satanic horror that uses creativity and three dimensional characters to subvert expectations and tropes (particularly dealing with gender and religious stereotypes).

This is all neatly rounded out by great performances. In particular, a psychotic, over the top Alexandra Daddario, and a surprisingly reserved Johnny Knoxville!

Whether you’re a Satanist, metal head, or just a good old fashioned horror fan, We Summon the Darkness is worth summoning for a screening!

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