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Movie Review: “We Summon the Darkness”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

We Summon the Darkness

Home Video Release: 8/8/2020

Home Video Release: 8/8/2020

Synopsis

A series of horrific, ritualistic murders have been plaguing the Midwest. The murders have occurred across multiple states, and while the police are not close to finding those responsible, the crime scenes strongly suggest that some sort of satanic cult is behind the murders. These murders have much of the population terrified, but not Alexis (Alexandra Daddario) and her friends. Alexis and her friends—Val (Maddie Hassob) and Beverly (Amy Forsyth)—are a group of rebels on a little road trip through the heart of the Midwest.

The girls are on their way to a heavy metal concert, and their rebellious attitudes leave them unafraid of the series of murders that have been all over the news. That fearlessness may change, however. After the concert, Alexis invites a few boys to join her and her friends at her father’s house for the night. Alexis will have the house to herself, so she wants to use it to keep the party going after the concert. The group seem to be having a good time, but their night is about to take a twisted turn, as the horrific, ritualistic murders seem to have found their way to Alexis’ home.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

The ProsThe Cons

Alexandra Daddario (+3pts)

The Beginning (-5pts)

The Twist (+4pts)

After the Twist (-5pts)

Johnny Knoxville (+2pts)

The Bedroom (-4pts)

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Pro: Alexandra Daddario (+3pts)

Alexandra Daddario was one of this movie's highlights. In an otherwise bland movie, Alexandra Daddario gave her character personality, and it made her character so much more interesting to watch than almost every other character in the movie. The other characters were stereotypical low-budget slasher movie characters. You really will not care about any of them, and the actors gave mostly unremarkable performances. As such, Alexandra Daddario shined among them. She gave her character life, and gave her character a fiery personality that made her feel unhinged at times, but always interesting. Unfortunately, the writing was not really there to support the character, so Alexandra Daddario's performance was not nearly enough to save the movie, but she was still easily one of this movie’s strengths.

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Con: The Beginning (-5pts)

The beginning of this movie was drawn out way longer than it needed to be. The movie as a whole was not very long—only coming in at about an hour and a half—but the first 30 minutes were basically just nothing. The movie easily could have cut this all way down, but then the movie would have been barely an hour long. My guess is that the filmmakers made their story, realized they did not have a lot to tell, so they just stretched out the beginning.

It made for a boring start to the movie, that the rest of the movie was never quite able to come back from. Were there some exciting moments? Sure, but the movie never seemed to entirely win me back after the incredibly drawn out, uneventful, and meaningless start. I understand the problem of realizing there was not much story to tell, but the filmmakers should have added more story instead of stretching out the short one that they had. It just made the whole beginning feel like a waste of time.

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Pro: The Twist (+4pts)

I really do not want to give this away, as it was one of the better parts of the movie—if you end up seeing it—but there was a twist that happened about 30 to 40 minutes into the movie, and I really enjoyed it. It was a twist that I did not see coming, and it was one that changed my entire perspective of the movie. It even gave the movie a long lasting sense of unpredictability, as it had me not knowing what would happen next, pretty much right up until the end of the movie. The story around this twist was not great, but I thought the twist itself was really effective.

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Con: After the Twist (-5pts)

Unfortunately, everything after the twist felt bland. It was unpredictable in the sense that I never knew quite how everything would play out, as there were a bunch of characters with different motives running around the house, but it was bland in the sense that I did not care how things would play out. The protagonists were uninteresting and I did not care if they survived. The antagonists were somewhat interesting, but the filmmakers never really fleshed any of them out.

The result was a bunch of bland characters running around and doing random things in their efforts to either survive, or kill their victims. It made the movie feel meaningless, as it felt like there were no stakes to get invested in. The twist happened, and it made me hopeful for what the rest of the movie would turn out to be. Then the rest of the movie came and went, and I realized that there was little more to this movie than the one twist. It was the sort of movie that felt like the filmmakers were just going through the motions when they made it. I did not care about the characters, I did not care about their fates, I did not care about their motivations, and I just did not care about the movie.

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Pro: Johnny Knoxville (+2pts)

I was surprised to see Johnny Knoxville was in a movie like this one, but it definitely peaked my interest. Then his character met the others and he was somewhat of an enigma. Did he do anything crazy with his performance? No he did not, but he made his character captivating to watch while he was on screen. Was his character on screen much? No he was not, but he made the movie more interesting while he was.

There is not much more to say about Johnny Knoxville's performance in this movie. I was not expecting much out of him, but he played the part surprisingly well. It just was not enough to save this movie, as he was hardly in it, and there was not much of a story around him. At the very least, his performance in this movie left me hoping that he will appear in another movie like this one, and that such a movie would give him the screen-time and the character development to really showcase his talents, because he managed to do a lot with the little that he was given in this movie.

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Con: The Bedroom (-4pts)

This scene happened toward the end of the movie, so I really do not want to give anything away, even though I did not think very highly of the scene or the movie as a whole. Nonetheless, toward the end of the movie, a few characters found themselves in Alexis' bedroom, and I thought pretty much everything in this scene was dumb. The scene saw protagonists going up against antagonists, antagonists going up against antagonists, and protagonists going up against antagonists again. There were a few reversals that took place here (in terms of who had the upper hand), and the whole scene just did not work for me. The reversals felt forced, the characters' motivations felt convenient and lazily written, and the final moment of this fight scene looked ridiculous. This scene was a ridiculous, nonsensical scene, and it was a fitting climax to an overall disappointing movie.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (70pts)

I saw a trailer for this movie, and I saw it was a slasher movie starring Alexandra Daddario and Johnny Knoxville. The premise and the cast peaked my interest, so I gave this movie a shot, but it ended up being a pretty big disappointment. Alexandra Daddario and Johnny Knoxville were certainly strengths for this movie, but Alexandra Daddario's character did not have any character development behind her, and Johnny Knoxville got relatively no screen-time. Then there was the twist, which was really effective, as I did not see it coming at all, and it somewhat rejuvenated my interest in the movie after the slow start, but the filmmakers were unable to stick the landing after that twist.

The first 30 minutes of this movie were uneventful, and unnecessary, which made it feel like the movie was being stretched out longer than it needed to be, in order to increase the runtime to a full, feature-length movie. Then there was everything that came after the plot twist, which was just a bunch of characters I did not care about, going through an unremarkable slasher movie plot. The plot was weak, the characters were weak, and the movie was overall just bland. This movie had a few things going for it, but those things were ultimately drowned out by the bad, and it made this movie barely watchable.

Comments

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 12, 2020:

Not familiar with this outside of your review here. I'd give it a watch so the filmmakers have you to thank for one more audience member. I hope they send you a commission check. But I wouldn't be standing by the mailbox in anticipation if I were you. Greedy production companies! Anyway, good review, thanks for sharing it.