Picture it: a road trip circa 1998. The car is fully stocked with ding dongs, and there’s some snack cakes in there too (ba dum tss). Friends Alexis (Alexandra Daddario), Val (Maddie Hasson), and Beverly (Amy Forsyth) are a trio of metalheads on their way to a concert. The newspaper and radio warn that satanic ritual killings now number 18 in the area but so far the biggest threat on the road seems to be from a van full of rowdy boys splashing chocolate milkshake across their windshield. It’s super awkward when they all meet up in the parking lot of the show later, but nothing a little light-hearted mutual pranking won’t fix.
The boys can’t believe their luck, really. Bandmates as well as vanmates, Ivan (Austin Swift) and Kovacs (Logan Miller) are just a touch resentful of Mark (Keean Johnson) who will soon be leaving them to pursue fame and fortune in California. But with the drugs and the rock and roll already taken care of and the promise of sex in the air, they’re feeling generally pretty stoked. Gathered around a fire, playing the classic drinking game Never Have I Ever, none of them can yet take a shot for ‘been stalked by a murderer,’ nor would they even think to name it, but by the night’s end, things will have changed.
The film’s score features televangelist Pastor Butler (Johnny Knoxville) telling American that rock music is to blame, corrupting the youth and all. It’s clear director Marc Meyers is a fan of horror movies and his production is pretty slick. I was, however, a little disappointed by the 80s backdrop. If anyone has an excuse to really camp it up, it’s a horror movie, but this one takes such a subtle approach it comes off as inauthentic. If it hadn’t blatantly stated that it was set in 1988, I likely wouldn’t have noticed until people failed to pull out cell phones in an emergency (and even that’s not a dead giveaway since these dildos had access to a landline they also chose not to use). We Summon The Darkness is a bit of subversive send up to slasher flicks but while there’s plenty of blood, there’s absolutely no tension. I get scared by horror movies about as easily as cats get surprised by zucchinis (translation: very, very easily, if you somehow missed this trend, look it up), but this one was so easy peasy it felt more like an unfunny parody. Are you into those, perchance?