Movie Review: THE SUMMONING

THE SUMMONING was written and directed by Curtis Schultz and stars Brian C. Chenworth, Amy Locicero, Flavio Milicchio, Shanna McLaughlin, and Jordan Wall.

When I was in my early twenties in the late 90’s and early 00’s I was super-into Morrissey and The Smiths. I still like Morrissey and The Smiths but not with the same level of intensity as I did at that time. So my future wife and I drove a couple of hours to go and see him perform. When he first took the stage I found myself uncontrollably jumping up and down for a few seconds. Like a thirteen-year-old girl seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan…you know what I mean? Pretty darn embarrassing in retrospect and even at the time if I am being honest but hey: I love Morrissey. What can I say? One of my favorite Smiths songs is “Stop Me if you Think You’ve Heard This One Before.” It (unsurprisingly) includes the lyrics “Stop me, oh, Stop me, Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before.” I am bringing this up because as you may have guessed I felt as though I had already seen the vast majority of The Summoning before. Please allow me to illustrate with a quick synopsis:

*A group of early twentysomething college kids are going to a party in the woods. They get lost. The car breaks down. A couple wait with the car and a few go off to find help. They get lost as well. Things do not go as planned and some bad things happen.

*Regarding characters, you have six main ones: the frat-guy womanizer typer, his “loser” friend, the spoiled prissy girl, the over-possessive girlfriend and her whipped boyfriend, and finally the normal pretty girl. So no original characters either.

*There is a Satanic cult element to this whole thing which is made apparent almost immediately when a girl unconnected to our merry band of partygoers goes missing a while before our actual story begins. The movie opens with her meeting her end. Spoiler alert—the cult members wear black pants, black hoodies and black shoes. One is even wearing Vans sneakers. Really? That really took away some of the fear I was supposed to experience considering this guy apparently serves the devil but is also either a skater or just plain fashionable.

Wow. I was actually amazed at how the film-makers were able to fit so many horror clichés into one film. Kind of impressive actually. Like Wes Craven’s “Scream” without being self-referential or having its tongue in its cheek. Now that I have thoroughly bashed on the premise of the film let me say that the last 20 minutes of the film are actually not terrible. Not great by any stretch, but not awful. The issue is everything leading up to the last twenty minutes—e.g. the vast majority of the film—is borderline painful. Problems include some unnecessary CGI and a host of various other issues many of which have already been covered. It did win some awards at the Florida Horror Film Festival including Best Actor and Best Picture. I don’t even know what to say about that. I guess competition was pretty thin. Did Marilyn Manson not release a video that year?

The thing about this film that bothers me is not that it is lackluster, but rather the fact that it could’ve been good. The Satanic element is not bad. I think the filmmakers have some potential but The Summoning gets bogged down in its own “genericness.” Is that even a word? I don’t care. Watch it if you want but you would be better off with the myriad of slightly less mediocre horror films on Netflix.  Currently available on VOD. – Dan MacNeil

Distributor: Midnight Releasing

Run Time: 88 minutes

Rating: NR

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