WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS (2020)
Horror/comedy takes place in 1988 with three hot friends, Alexis (Alexandra Daddario from Bereavement), Val (Maddie Hasson) and Beverly (Amy Forsyth from Hell fest) traveling to a heavy metal concert at a time where there is a series of murders being committed, allegedly by a satanic cult. There they meet three guys, Ivan (Austin Swift), Kovacs (Logan Miller from Plus One) and Mark (Keean Johnson from Alita: Battle Angel) and the six bond. After the concert, they return to Alexis’ father’s remote house to party. As this is a horror film, one of these trios is not what they seem.
We Summon The Darkness is directed by Marc Meyers from a script by Alan Trezza. Sadly, it doesn’t have nearly as much fun with it’s premise, as it let’s the proverbial cat out of the bag less than halfway through. This sets up a stalemate situation with the survivors of one group trying to hold off the others. It’s not nearly as fun as if they had kept it a mystery as to which group were killers and which were victims, for a while longer. The middle of the film finds it’s momentum stopped dead as a siege situation is set-up, with two survivors locked inside a pantry. Of course a comedy of errors threatens to unravel the plans of the killers, leading to more bodies piling up. The tone is a bit uneven, as it can’t decide whether it wants to be a straight-up horror film, or is it supposed to be more of a comedy. The tone is fairly light at times, but it then switches to straight up horror, especially in the last act and there is a lot of blood spilled and graphic violence throughout. Again, the makers never seem to decide on a consistent tone and that keeps the audience at a bit of a distance. Plus, it’s not funny enough or scary/intense enough to be fully successful at either genre and it doesn’t mix them as deftly as it needs to. To describe the cast and characters in detail would be to give surprises away, so suffice to say the cast are all good and perform their parts well. Eventually things do pick-up, as a not surprising change of heart leads to evened odds and an all-out battle for survival in the final third. The climax is effective, if not predictable. Reminds one of last year’s Satanic Panic, another satanist themed horror/comedy that also had trouble settling on a consistent tone and didn’t take full advantage of it’s premise.
This isn’t a great movie and could have been a lot better. It’s not terrible, just doesn’t have as nearly as much fun with it’s premise as it could have. The middle of the flick stagnates, thought it does pick up for a bloody cat and mouse climax. It is also tonally challenged, as it can’t decide between comedy and straight-up horror or at least mixed them more successfully. Could have been a lot better, but could have been a lot worse. Basically a missed opportunity to have a lot of fun. Also stars Johnny Knoxville as a TV preacher, who turns out to be close to one of the six characters and Allison McAtee and Tanner Beard as an ex-stepmom and police officer, respectively, both in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Flick is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) outboard motors.
SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (2015)
Completely generic and predictable horror/comedy finds three nerdy boy scouts (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan) teaming up with a stripper (Sarah Dumont) as they search for one’s sister (Halston Sage) during a zombie outbreak (does one town merit an apocalypse?).
There is literally nothing new or even remotely clever in this routine zombie comedy directed by Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones‘ Christopher B. Landon, who, for some reason, needed three co-writers to crank out a by-the-numbers flick with little or no inventiveness or originality. We get exactly what we’d expect…a lot of gore, even more vulgar toilet humor and the typical ‘nerd wins hot chick by battling evil’ scenario that has been done to death since the 80s. It’s not that the flick is ever really boring or badly made, it’s just that it is completely void of anything that might set it apart or deviate from the same formula, be it zombie comedy or ‘nerd becomes hero’ flick, that has become commonplace by now. Landon did a good job with Marked Ones and gave us a few scares and a second wind with a well worn franchise and formula. So, why he couldn’t do the same here is disappointing. The cast all have fun with the material, at least and feisty Sarah Dumont is notable as eye-candy and ass kicker. Also stars Krampus‘ David Koechner as a Dolly Parton obsessed scout leader.
SINISTER 2 (2015)
Sequel finds Deputy So and So (James Ransone) now having left the force and tracking various murder cases, linked to Bughuul, across the country. His search leads him to a secluded church and farmhouse where a mother, Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin sons (Dartanian and Robert Daniel Sloan) are hiding out from an abusive spouse. Of course, this is a former crime site and Bughuul and his child minions have their sights set on one of the boys.
This awful sequel makes the big mistake of having the worst character from the first film be the lead here. Of course he’s called Deputy So and So, because Deputy Dewey was already taken. This weak flick is surprisingly written by original flick scribes, Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, though this time directed by Irish director Ciaran Foy. The original had it’s moments, but was a bit overrated, but this sequel is just boring, sluggishly paced and gives us nothing new or interesting about the thinly written, generic boogieman Bughuul. Most of the screen time is taken up by his creepy spirit children trying to coax one or the other of the boys to join them in murder and Deputy So and So being just as annoying as last time. It’s a snooze-fest with zero tension, suspense or legitimate scares. A complete waste of time and surely a disappointment for fans of the first flick.
+1 starts out as what appears to be another Super Bad or Project X style teen party flick then cleverly adds a touch of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers and a pinch of Groundhog Day to deliver an interesting and engaging, offbeat thriller. Our story starts with the break-up of Jill (Ashley Hinshaw) and David (Rhys Wakefield) over an indiscretion of David’s and David’s subsequent hope to apologize and get her back at a massive house party. Meanwhile a meteorite crashes in the neighborhood and something comes out and attaches itself to the power-lines and soon sporadic power outages begin to occur. David and his bud, Teddy (Logan Miller) arrive at the party only to witness Jill arrive with a new beau and David is more determined then ever to get her back. His apology to her is an epic fail, but at the same time he starts to see what appears to be duplicates of the people at the party reenacting things that the original party guests did only a short while earlier… including one of himself. Teddy soon discovers this too and as the evening progresses, more and more people start to realize that, for some reason, there are now two of everyone with one group slightly behind in time in their actions. Worse still, as more and more blackouts occur, the closer in time the duplicates become. Now the ‘original’ party guests are beset by fear and paranoia as to what will happen when the doubles catch up to them, while David sees a chance to possible fix something with Jill’s doppelganger that he failed to do with the original…but will that make things worse?
Director Dennis Illadis…who also wrote the story on which Bill Gullo’s script is based…creates a clever and entertaining mash-up of some familiar story-lines that one would not expect to see thrown together and it works. He starts us off light enough with a basic party movie with the traditional break-up/attempted make-up scenario, but things get gradually more and more strange as our mysterious alien entity and then our ‘behind the times’ clones show up. The film then switches gears quite effectively to creepy thriller and then things heat up and get intense and violent for the final act when duplicate and originals are set to collide. There are some very clever uses of the scenario that has been presented and the atmosphere is very unsettling once the story gets going and our characters start to realize something really weird is happening. There is also some nice suspense and tension to the proceedings courtesy of director Illadis.
The cast are all quite good and handle the material well, especially our leads and their characters having to deal with this very real Twilight Zone situation that makes their own personal dramas even more complicated as it is now occurring twice and there is the temptation to intervene… not to mention the sheer terror of realizing you are seeing some kind of alternate version of yourself right before your eyes. The only real problem with the flick and it’s gimmick is that ultimately, it doesn’t really go anywhere or give us any real answers to the questions it poses and as the credits roll, we feel entertained…and the film is that…but we don’t really feel like the time watching was all that substantial an investment, as the movie sort of runs it’s course and is over without anything really major being accomplished. There is never an explanation and that works fine, but it also robs us of having something with a little more weight to think about after the movie ends. Despite some interesting directions the scenario could have gone, it kinda gets wrapped up in a neat little bow for it’s finale and therefor, doesn’t stay with you once it’s over. Its a clever and effective diversion, but not one that will stick with you.
All in all +1 is an entertaining and effectively creepy film that balances party flick hi-jinx and drama with the suspense and violence of a horror movie and its quite clever about it, but like any good snack, it’s a delicious combination of flavors, but not really filling enough to be considered a full meal. A fun, spooky flick, but nothing that will stay with you very long after. Recommended though, as it is a fun 90 minutes. Also stars twins Colleen Dengel and Suzanne Dengel as both versions of Allison, who has an interesting solution to her being presented with her exact duplicate.
3 plus ones!