Hell yeah, finally a movie about metalheads for metalheads! OK, that might be a little exaggerated, but let’s discuss things from the start, shall we?
We Summon The Darkness is a new …now, what to call it? Well, it’s a crossover movie for me. Really, it’s a little bit of everything – you get slasher, you get thriller in here as well, a little comedy…well, crossover it is. So WSTD is 2020 crossover (released in the UK on April 20th, 2020 from Signature Entertainment (along with a few other movie production companies) starring Alexandra Daddario, Kean Johnson, Maddie Hasson, Amy Forsyth, Logan Miller, Austin Swift, Johny Knowville, Allison McAtee, Tanner Beard and a few other folks. Written by Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex) and directed by Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer), the movie tells a story of a group of metal concert-goers during the 1980s Satanic Panic period. Period.
Well, that might serve for a short notice in some reference book, but I guess we shouldn’t be satisfied with it. OK, longer version.
We follow the female trio of Alexis (Alexandra Daddario, San Andreas, Baywatch, Burying the Ex), Val (Maddie Hasson, God Bless America) and Beverly (Amy Forsyth, known from TV series Defiance, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and others) travelling to a metal gig amidts the Satanic Panic period. You know, occult, satanic cults, heavy metal. Which, as any self-respecting metalhead and culture geek worth their salt knows – we’re firmly set in 1980s. To be honest, it took me a little while to realize that – when Mark (TV actor Keean Johnson from TV series I am not familiar with) talk about his first gig being Ozzy’s last gig with Randy Rhoads, I was like…wait a second, ain’t you a little young for that? Then Val mentions her first gig as Def Leppard’s in 1983 and then it’s clicked (and their discussion about Cliff Burton and his replacement in Metallica in the person of Jason Newsted was really cute).
So, three chicks meet three guys at the metal gig. Nothing out of the ordinary.
I am bit reluctant whether I should go into the storyline, as I usually try to stay away from revealing too much of the plot etc… OK. Nothing is as it seems here. And what is starting as a nice evening quickly turns to a nightmare. Of sorts.
Did I reveal too much? I hope not.
What I want to discuss is not the movie story. That’s for you to enjoy. However, I’d like to take the opportunity to talk about the approach to this little flick.
See, for a general movie watcher, this is just another flick. And no matter how I want to say otherwise, that’s probably a fact. Consumable product, similar to your McDonald’s diet. Enjoyable? Yes. Memorable? No, not really. Clichéd? You bet. Predictable? Check.
As a metalhead, and especially an older one, things are little different.
I have to admit, even being old enough to be a metalhead (albeit a really young) during the 80s, I (along with many of my fellow headbangers) were spared from the Satanic Panic simply by the fact of living behind then current Iron Curtain. Commies at the helm of what was then known as Czechoslovakia haven’t given a damn about Satan worship or whatever was associated with the craze. Neither you had greedy televangelists in your TV bursting with righteous indignation – we were shielded from that capitalist, imperialist attempt that was heavy metal music, to destroying an orderly, socialist society. Thanks, but no thanks. But, of course, I am well aware of the impact of the campaign against the heavy metal music back in the 1980s (and, to a degree, this can be compared with the attempt of the Catholic Church banning the Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden concerts in the early 1990s in Czechoslovakia).
And that’s where the movie is finding its feet. For the older metalheads do remember this idiocy very well to this day and the movie enthusiasts in the UK can relate with their own Video Nasties era.
Back to the movie. Obviously aimed at the young(er) generation, there’s quite a liberty with depictions of the main protagonists (I am not sure if metal folks look like that back in the 1980s, definitely not in my neck of the woods – a headbanger without a long hair? That was almost unthinkable!), the inverted crossed as Alexis’ earrings have cracked me up everytime they were seen on the screen, but that’s OK, this is not a documentary. Yes, parts of the movie were really like WTF predictable (the arrival and the actions of the pastor were soooooo obvious, the ending also, one would think they were there intentionally), some scenes were just like “c’mon, guys, really?” (like badly wounded Kovacs’ (Logan Miller, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Escape Room) getting back to the house , but I will be guilty here if I won’t say I enjoy it, especially the building the story, practically up to the realization of what’s really going on (I need to put it this way not to reveal the stuff). That’s headbangers’ gold. And the chicks’ outfits were so funny!
Summed up – Kubrick it is not. As I’ve written above, the movie is a mix of the genres and as such it’s hard to categorize and compare it to other movies. Sure, there’s probably nothing you haven’t seen before, but it still works. The actions of the main protagonists are believable (OK, apart from the sheriff, because that was totally unbelievable reaction), as a fellow metalhead I really rooted for the guys and the girls were damn pretty. And I have to say, Logan Miller’s Kovacs was the show stealer. That’s what a crazy metal fan is!!!
If for nothing else but the level of nostalgia, I guess this could really serve as a cheesy Saturday night movie. Horns up!!!