“I Defer To Your Stab Wound Knowledge”: Dr. Lauren and Darren review “We Summon The Darkness” (2019)

Dr. Lauren McIntyre (above) is a horror obsessive, tattoo connoisseur, natural Goth and cat wrangler. Lauren is ecstatic that she finally managed to buy flour after 4 weeks of lockdown. Say hi to her on Twitter: @noddinggoth

Darren Gaskell (above) is a horror obsessive and “enthusiastic” karaoke performer. Darren is ecstatic that he still has Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers after 4 weeks of lockdown. Say hi to him on Twitter: @darren_gaskell

WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS (2019)

Darren: So….We Summon The Darkness, which is a horror movie about three rock chicks who go to a music festival and meet three wannabe musicicans. This all takes place against a backdrop of a wave of Satanic murders which are happening in the area….I’m being very, very careful as I’m trying not to spoil any of this.

Dr. Lauren: Set in 1988, for reasons I’m not entirely clear about.

Darren: The only reason I thought of is that old chestnut where no one has mobile phones.

Dr. Lauren: That’s literally the only reason I could think of. Maybe there would have been more of a metal scene in the late 80s. Surely a lot of the Satanic Panic murders would have been more around Charles Manson times. Early 70s might have be a more appropriate time to set it but maybe you could have had a resurgence in the 80s. In 1988 I would have been five so I wasn’t aware of things like that back then.

Darren: I was, er, slightly older and as a kid I was going to see bands like Iron Maiden in the 80s so there’s some resonance for me there. As a youngster I was very, very into rock music. There are quite a few Cliff Burton references in this. Never heard Cliff Burton mentioned so much outside of a Metallica documentary.

Dr. Lauren: I thought that the whole gig set-up wasn’t too bad. In films there are varying levels of quality and realism in portraying metal gigs. I’d give it a 7 out of 10 on the realism scale.

Darren: The chat about the bands isn’t too grating and has a decent grounding in the rock genre. Of course, there’s always going to be a mention of Ozzy. It’s the unwritten rule for movies that feature rock music. Someone is always going to drop Ozzy Osbourne’s name in.

Dr. Lauren: The depiction of that music scene is actually not bad. The only problem I had is that everybody was way too clean! I’ve been to many gigs of that sort myself and I’ve never seen anyone that clean when they come out of it afterwards.

Darren: I remember going to gigs and it was usually about 3000 degrees in there so you’d come out with everything you were wearing stuck down to you and you’d lost about two stones in weight because you’d dehydrated that much.

Dr. Lauren: Those horribly, grotty venues where everyone’s stuck to the floor…

Darren: Exactly! You could see sweat rolling down the walls. The one in the film is a very well air-conditioned gig set-up.

Dr. Lauren: The audience was very polite. No one looked like they’d had a pint chucked over them.

Darren: They’ve given us a fairly stylised version of a rock gig.

Dr. Lauren: I think that they have and that was something I noticed throughout the film. Everyone was supposed to look as though they were in the 80s but a lot of looks seemed to be how people who want to have an 80s-inspired look would dress and do their make-up now.

Darren: Fair.

Dr. Lauren: That aside, I don’t want people to think that it spoiled my enjoyment of the film at all because I really did enjoy it.

Darren: Same here. We’ve been ripping on the authenticity of the gig and the looks but to be perfectly honest I thought this was a very good film.

Dr. Lauren. Me too. If I’m honest, I think that it started out stronger than it finished. The first act was probably the best part for me. I thought it wavered slightly towards the end of the second act and tailed off a bit more for me during the third.

Darren: It gets to a point where the plot goes in a slightly different direction and it’s a good turn in terms of the story but then it gets a little bogged down because there’s a place where the couple of the characters are get stuck and that seemed to go on for quite a long time.

Dr. Lauren: That’s where I thought it started wavering. I felt that it lost its way a little bit. It did pick up courtesy of Johnny Knoxville.

Darren: Props to Johnny Knoxville. Even though his part is more or less an extended cameo he’s very good.

Dr. Lauren: I’m a big Johnny Knoxville fan. Me and my brother grew up during the Jackass era.

Darren: I’m always going to give Johnny Knoxville a pass because of Jackass. Even so, he’s good here. He’s playing against type too. He’s cast as a pastor so you have Johnny Knoxville as a serious, religious guy.

Dr. Lauren: I don’t think I’ve seen him play serious. Normally I’d be expecting an alligator to chomp on his nipples or something.

Darren: Regarding the other performances, I think they’re all good. Certainly Alexandra Daddario is the strongest in it. She gets the best role as well.

Dr. Lauren: I thought all three of the girls were pretty good in it and the three guys they meet up with are fine. You texted me after you’d seen it and said you were getting shades of AnnaLynne McCord from 68 Kill out of Alexandra Daddario’s performance and I totally agree with that. I was also getting waves of Fairuza Balk, a little bit Nancy from The Craft.

Darren: Yes! Not to go on about 68 Kill too much here but I loved that and if anyone’s channelling any of the characters from it I’m thinking “Yeah, I’m on board with this, this is cool”.

Dr. Lauren: The girl who was playing Beverly, I was sure I’d seen her before but I thought maybe she just reminded me of Abigail Breslin. Anyway, I Googled her after I’d finished watching the film and she’s in Hellfest.

Darren: Oh, right! That’s what she was in. I hadn’t made the connection.

[Let’s be honest, Darren was probably still thinking about AnnaLynne McCord]

Darren: Even though the three girls are slightly stereotyped, they all have very different personalities. You’ve got Alexandra Daddario’s character Alexis who’s the no-shit rock chick, there’s Val who’s got a hairspray obsession…

Dr. Lauren: It is the 80s, though!

Darren: There’s also a plot point made about the fact that Val quite often wants to have a wee.

Dr. Lauren: We’ve all got a friend like that.

Darren: It’s a nice touch. Every couple of minutes she’s wanting a wee, which is quite an amusing aside. Then you have Beverly, the newbie in the group who’s the shy one.

Dr. Lauren: She looks like she’s into some shite thrash band.

Darren: We are trying to dance around the spoilers because you really shouldn’t know too much about the story. As a horror movie it doesn’t rely on jump scares and it’s more to do with the situation and the atmosphere. It’s a bit more of a dark comedy horror.

Dr. Lauren: I didn’t get huge comedy horror vibes off it. It’s not something like Braindead but it has a fun popcorn movie feel to it. I was thinking that it’s in the same place as something like The Babysitter.

Darren: Yeah. It’s not directly played for laughs but there are plenty of darkly comic moments in it. It’s quite clever in that it’s not just thrown together, there are things set up in the first act that pay off in the third. Again, can’t really say what those are.

Dr. Lauren: It’s not overly intellectually challenging but that’s not something I mean in a negative way. It’s a fun movie. Would be a good beer and pizza movie.

Darren: It’s really well put together. It doesn’t outstay its welcome. Yeah, it does sag a bit in the middle but I enjoyed it a lot more than most of the stuff I’ve seen recently. I think it would play well with a big audience. I’m not sure it’s quite as effective sat watching it on your own. If you’re with a bunch of people who are up for this sort of thing it would work better.

Dr. Lauren: It would be something fun for a watch party so you could chat about it.

Darren: I’m not condoning people chatting through movies [He really isn’t – Darren absolutely bloody hates this] but if you’re commenting online during a watch party then there’s plenty to talk about.

Dr. Lauren: It’s sufficiently gory as well. It’s not hugely gruesome but there’s a nice balance and the make-up effects are good too. That first stab wound…

Darren: That’s quite gnarly, that first stab wound.

Dr. Lauren: I’ve seen quite a lot of stab wounds.

Darren: Hold on, what?

Dr. Lauren; Not real ones up close! I mean photos of them. And what was on screen looked pretty close to me.

Darren: I defer to your stab wound knowledge.

Dr. Lauren: I had to spend quite a lot of time researching stab wounds for something to do with my day job and the ones in the film looked realistic.

Darren: That’s another point in its favour. It has realistic stab wounds. And you’re right, it’s nasty without being too gross. It doesn’t wallow in the blood.

Dr. Lauren; You don’t get long close-ups of wounds.

Darren: No, I’d have found that off-putting. If it’s really lingering violence…it would also have been at odds with the tone of the film. It’s nasty enough for what it needs to do.

Dr. Lauren: It also reminded me a little of Book Of Monsters. Somewhere between Book Of Monsters and The Babysitter. If that’s your thing you should enjoy this.

Darren: It’s not particularly heavy. It’s the sort of thing you could put on almost any time and enjoy. You don’t have to be a fan of hard-driving horror. It’s gruesome enough but I don’t think it’s going to massively upset anyone.

Dr. Lauren: I’ll probably watch it again. It’s not going to be my favourite film or anything but it’s really solid.

Darren: In terms of what’s out at the moment it’s right up there for me. Okay, it may not be my favourite film of the year but it’s a very, very, very long way from the bottom.

Dr. Lauren: It’s fun, it’s well made, it’s entertaining.

Darren: It’s difficult for us to spill too much about it. If you knew too much about what was happen I don’t think you’d get as much out of it on a first watch as you could.

Dr. Lauren: That’s a good point. My recommendation would be to go in as cold as possible. I’d seen quite a bit of internet buzz about it before I watched it and I was quite looking forward to it but basically I think I knew too much. I wish I hadn’t.

Darren: I knew pretty much nothing about it going in. I think maybe I’ve seen too many movies because at one point I did second guess the plot. I’m definitely not one of those people who can see where things are going, normally I’ll get to the end of something and think “How did I not see that?” but there was a point where someone says something that seems fairly innocuous and I thought “I wonder if…” and then five minutes later it happened. It’s not like I’m some genius, I was more surprised that I’d actually guessed what was going to happen.

Dr. Lauren: What would you rate it then?

Darren: Well, I really enjoyed it. The couple of flaws don’t harm it, the performances were excellent and it was a thoroughly entertaining horror romp so I’m going to give it four.

Dr. Lauren: I was um-ing and ah-ing between three and a half or four but on reflection and considering other things we’ve seen I think it deserves a four too.

Darren: It’s got laughs without it being too obvious, it has a bit of gore if you like that sort of thing and I’d definitely watch it again. With a lot of genre stuff I might think I’d maybe give it another go if it ever turned up on TV but with this one, if someone suggested it for a watch party in the next couple of weeks I’d happily see it again.

THE SCORES

Dr. Lauren: 4 / 5

Darren: 4 / 5

About celluloiddeej

Film fan, horror festival goer, karaoke enthusiast, cat whisperer, world traveller, complete idiot. Invite me on your podcast if you can stand the Yorkshire accent.

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