EVIL Metal vs EVILER Zealot! “We Summon the Darkness” reviewed! (Lionsgate / Digital Screener)


Set in the Midwest of the late 1980’s when a satanic cult has killed upwards of 18 people, slain in groups of threes, across the United States, three good girlfriends set forth on a road trip to a heavy metal concert. The girls bump into and befriend three aspiring musicians and fellow metal heads at the venue, inviting them to beers and some company while rocking out to killer show. The after show party moves to one of the girl’s father’s pastoral home for some late night boozing around the firepit, reminiscing about their favorite bands, and whatever else the dark night has in store for them, but the night of hedonism turns quickly into a night of terror when that satanic cult comes calling for three more souls. Some of the group isn’t truthful about their intentions and dead bodies pile up as the ritual killings aim to continue to spread.

Harking back to that killer trope oddity, a setup very keen in the 1980s, of a mysterious killer hiding behind a friendly façade, “We Summon the Darkness” is a modern day remembrance of such a subgenre in the slasher-survival field set along the drab bible belt of Indiana landscape, though, in actually, filmed in Winnipeg, Canada. At the helm is “My Friend DahmerMy Friend DahmerMy Friend Dahmer” director Marc Meyers from a script by Alan Trezza, who is the creative mind behind the short and feature film versions of another Alexandra Daddario comedy horror, “Burying the ExBurying the ExBurying the Ex,” that co-starred the late Anton Yelchin. May he rest in peace. Meyers moves his hand from the somber and inquisitive mutilations to murder of the Jeffrey Dahmer biopic origins story to the fanatical whims of pious psychopaths, daggering the crux of the issue into the misperceptions of stigmatic cultures and beliefs while at the same time being an extension of the dark comedy tone that worked charmingly with the tale of zombified ex-girlfriend hellbent on revenge. “We Summon the Darkness” is a product from a conglomerate of production companies, highlighting The Fyzz Facility,= (“47 Meters Down: Uncaged47 Meters Down: Uncaged47 Meters Down: Uncaged”), Grey Hawk Productions, Nightshade Entertainment, MEP Capital, and Common Enemy as well as Daddario, herself, pitching in into the producer pool that isn’t her first rodeo in that role.

If you haven’t guessed already, Alexandra Daddario (“Burying the Ex,” “True Detective”) stars as Alexis Butler, one of the three metalhead girlfriends cruising to the show, and sequestering herself the ringleader of the road tripping trio as a level headed, parental type with an edge to keep her ostentatious blond friend, Val, played to the fine tune of being uninhibited crazy well by Maddie Hasson, and the timidly sharp Beverly, a role docile to the point of uncertainty and shepherd well by “Hell Fest’s” Amy Forsyth. The three very attractive concert goers bump into another trio of friends, more haplessly hazardous, if not hopeless, band mates who try their hardest to be as metal as they can be, even if that meals throwing a chocolate milkshake out of the window of their speeding van onto the gals’ Jeep. Austin Swift, Logan Miller (“Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse”), and Keenan Johnson (“Alita: Battle Angel”) make up the group caught red handed in a stroke of coincidence that the girls find them at the very same concert. As much as the two groups mirror each other in personalities, matching up almost perfectly in the varying degrees of state, one group holds a darker secret that could cost the other their very lives. That level-headedness Daddario portrays onto Alexis’ mindset becomes ravaged with wild fires in her eyes and her laid back amount of patience becomes threadbare frazzled when the bodies start to drop in a satanic twist of murder and mayhem, frenzied with extreme ideology founded on multiple levels of greed. Daddario wears crazed well in a very different side to her usually starry eyed and elegant approaches, making all the others seem abhorrently normal in comparison. “We Summon the Darkness” rounds out with Allison McAtee, Tanner Beard, Harry Nelken, and that “Jackass” Johnny Knoxville as Pastor John Henry Butler.

Despite Daddario’s rising stardom and luminous performance, “We Summon the Darkness” falls hard into a mosh pit of despair. The concept is sound and promising, but the execution couldn’t rise to the occasion with limited secretion of the murderous evil that has spread like a pandemic across the nation that’s has sorely downgraded and diluting the nature of the news and media’s role in beyond hammering in the deaths. When story turns dark, the effect feels whiffed and not as jarring as hoped as little is then diagramed to help assist the viewer grasp just what these satanic cultist wish to accomplish. Also, Trezza’s script is highly predictable as the twist is unfolded fairly early on even before the catalyst transition to a darker tone, spoiling the unveil with too many gnomic sidebar conversations and a slew of obvious character tells that don’t exactly shield the truth of their true wolf in spiked studded, black jacketed, metal band patched sheep’s attire. Also, the film pulled too many punches, teetering on the balancing beam whether it’s an edgy killer comedy or a killer comedy with that’s soft around the belly area. Plus, I’m still trying to figure out why a walk-in pantry has a lock on the inside…?

Metal posers rule while the victims haplessly mewl in this Marc Meyers’ film, “We Summon the Darkness,” hitting retain and digital shelves this week on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital courtesy of Lionsgate and Saban Films. Since the screener provided was a digital streamer, the video and audio aspects will not be covered; however, the Blu-ray specs will feature a 1080p High Definition, 16X9 (2.39:1) widescreen presentation with an English 5.1 Dolby True HD mix while the DVD is presented in the same aspect ratio and will sport an English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio. Both releases with have optional English, Spanish, and English SDH subtitles. Special features will include a featurette entitled “Envisioning Darkness” and an audio commentary with director Marc Meyers and writer Alan Trezza. “We Summon the Darkness’s” cheekiness is fresh for an 80’s maniac homage armored with solid performances by Alexandra Daddario and an uncharacteristically stoic Johnny Knoxville as a devout pastor against metal music, but seizes up, derails off the tracks, and fizzles to a reduced version of the greater version it could have been.

“We Summon the Darkness” out now on Blu-ray / DVD/ Digital! Click the cover!

Evil Bikers Take On Unstoppable and Unthinkable Savior! “All Hell Breaks Loose” review!

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The spawned from hell biker gang, Satan’s Sinners, ride the dusty roads of west coast America in search of pure virgin women for their master’s ever growing domain. As they wreak hellish havoc along the way, they ride upon newly wed couple Nick and Bobby Sue, stealing the beautiful bride away from her loving husband and leaving him for dead on the side of the road. However, the Lord works in mysterious ways as divine intervention in a form of a boorish Cowboy, who may or may not be God himself, resurrects Nick from the dead again and again to save his wife from the ultimate damnation – Satan’s beautiful virgin slave. Armed and clueless, Nick finds help wherever he can, whether by the prideful local sheriff or the alcoholic priest who performed Nick’s marriage, to stop the bikers and to reclaim Bobby Sue.
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“All Hell Breaks Loose” is one of those indie films that’ll fly under the radar of the indie film circuit, scraping and clawing at the surface and trying to create a name for itself. At face value, “All Hell Breaks Loose” is a hell of fun, devilishly entertaining, and so relaxed that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Unfortunately, those film’s qualities are the complete antonym to a box office money maker or a breakthrough independent golden nugget. I get why money won’t just flow in, though. Director Jeremy Garner’s name won’t ring any bells and has dabbled more in the special effects field than the director’s chair, which I thought his 2009 special effects work on “Melvin” was fantastic, and the screenwriter Jacy Morris, under the pen name The Vocabularist, is also an unknown with only this film under his belt. There’s strike one. Secondly, the lead actor isn’t a big name; Nick Forrest name might seem similar to “Shaun of the Dead’s” Nick Frost, but, sadly, no. But Nick Forrest plays his character of the dimwitted, pee-wee hero character well enough for be recognized and respected. The last, and final strike, is film’s recognizable headliner – “Danger” Ehren McGhehey from “Jackass” fame.
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Garner’s film doesn’t need to prove one damn thing to anybody. The horror-comedy story is simplicity thats surrounded itself with undying love, badass demon bikers, and God’s wish-washy methodology; there’s no symbolism or underlining message that suggest otherwise and there’s not much explanation here or there about the particulars of the Satan’s Sinner’s mission or why in that particular region they choose to run amok. Viewers looking for an untamed experience will just want to see the Bikers dish out violence and pain and see Nick die a horrible death over and over again. Even though Garner didn’t dip his hands into conducting the effects for his Sophomore film, Izzy Combs, Ray Kelley, and Steven Strop team up to pull off some amazing lunacy with the limited budget effects that get gory without being over-the-top and ridiculous.
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Aside from a pipsqueak-to-a partial demi-god hero in Nick Forrest and “Danger” Ehren portraying a demon biker with an Elvis Presley obsession, the rest of the cast, like the Satan’s Sinners, is a motley crew of talent ranging from twenty years of B-movie experience in Todd Robinson to a slew of undiscovered actors, especially in the biker gang with Hunter O’Guinn, Joshua Lee Frazier, and Tommy Hestmark with leading lady Sarah Kobel Marquette as the damsel in distress while being undressed.
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Wild Eye Releasing summons from the underworld “All Hell Breaks Loose.” The unrated, 92 minute feature might have cheesy and cheap DVD cover art, but the entertainment value speaks volumes. The release contains bonus features that contains an informative director’s commentary, a couple of deleted scenes, and trailers. Overall, give “All Hell Breaks Loose” a chance or two or three, just to be completely sure that you understand that what you’re about to see will be utter chaos that’ll make the Waco, Texas shooting look like a little girl’s tea party with her favorite stuffed animals.