WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS *** USA 2019 Dir: Marc Meyers. 83 mins
An enjoyable 80’s-set comic horror from the director of MY FRIEND DAHMER and BURYING THE EX screenwriter Alan Trezza. While having fun with the 80’s-flavoured themes of recent flicks like SATANIC PANIC and DEATHGASM it also joins the post-#MeToo genre trend for multiple strong female leads – this time getting us to root for a trio of attractive, charismatic murderers. In fact, its strongest suit is the spirited work from the stars: Alexandra Daddario (also in BURYING THE EX) is typically good, accompanied by Maddie Hasson as a slutty, splendidly eyebrowed blonde and appealing Amy Forsyth as a newcomer to their circle.
While the contemporary media sensationalises recent, apparent “Satanic” cult killings, the girls enjoy a heavy metal concert with some eager lads. Red herring threats are teased, but it’s obvious early on that the girls are the real danger – killing off the immoral and transforming the murder scenes to look like the work of the Satanic cultists that have got everyone paranoid – all part of the demented Christian agenda led by Daddario’s mad Pastor Dad (an extended Johnny Knoxville cameo). It’s an amusing, inspired take on the decade’s hysteria, albeit with a heavily telegraphed main twist and the kind of faux-80’s dialogue (discussions about Def Leppard, Metallica, etc.) that feels a tad contrived. The girls are smart, sexy and huge fun – and it’s a good-looking picture with a nostalgia-inducing female-fronted soundtrack incorporating T’Pau’s “Heart and Soul” and Belinda’s “Heaven Is A Place on Earth”. Alas, its considerable early promise seems to peter out, and the bravura splatter finale it seems to be building to never really happens. File it under “Enjoyable while it’s on but strangely restrained when it should be going all-out”
Review by Steven West