I took a break from all the low budget indie stuff to indulge in some films with a little more polish. How did that work out for me? Let’s take a look.
WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS (2020)
Not even 1980s nostalgia can save this well-promoted, totally uninspired film about asshole teenagers. I fought to make it all the way through it because it was soooooo dull.
Three girls at the end of the eighties drive to a heavy metal concert. There they meet three boys (including the dickish friend from Love, Simon), they hang, they name drop metal bands from the eighties for a long time, they hang out at one girl’s house, and then we finally get to the point—satanism, religious extremism, and human sacrifice.
Sounds fun, right? Nope.
It is bland, attempts at humor are weak, there’s no suspense whatsoever, the girls are totally unlikable from the start, and the inclusion of a heavy metal theme is entirely irrelevant, barely touching upon the notion in the 80s that the genre of music would lead kids to Satanism—despite that point being the whole twist in the movie.
It’s just three kids chasing three other kids around a house, with Johnny Knoxville and a burly bear cop stopping by to up the body count.
Even the use of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” is a copycat cover instead of her version—and also a weird montage song choice in a movie about heavy metal. As is the use of T’Pau’s “Heart and Soul” for the closing credits. That also happens to be the best part of the film.
THE LODGE (2019)
The Shining meets The Others with a splash of that movie Barricade and becomes a grueling and tedious film about a woman trapped in a snowbound house for Christmas with the two kids that may soon be her stepchildren.
This is basically a film about PTSD and mental health, for the main woman is a survivor of a religious cult.
For that reason, religion, guilt, and sin play a big role in her mental state, making the eerie, unsettling atmosphere and creepy moments feel like exactly what they end up being….a letdown.
I can’t stand sitting through a slow burn that doesn’t burst into flames.
In a cool opening scene that seems completely unrelated to anything else in this movie, Mischa Barton is attacked in an alley by the always witchy horror queen Maria Olsen. Neither of them is ever seen again.
This becomes a character study “vampire” movie starring cutie Adam Huss, who carries the whole film with his performance.
He is suffering from extreme emotional and physical pain after the death of his son. His wife, played by Madeline Zima (little Gracie from The Nanny) does her best to help him, but he ends up figuring out himself what he needs…
He meets a man who convinces him he’s a vampire and only fresh human blood will ease his pain. Together they embark on a journey to get Huss some nourishment. Problem is, Huss can’t bring himself to harm another human being. Ever.
So what we have here is a non-horror vampire movie. There’s plenty of deep diving into the effects of grief, but ultimately I was let down by this one.
THE WRETCHED (2019)
For starters, The Wretched has two awesome modern wave songs that I’ll totally be playing on my Future Flashbacks show:
Joypopp – “Desire” (lueur verte mix)
and Qween M8 – “Apartment Song”
Aside from that, it’s just an awesome, sleek, modern take on the Fright Night concept, with a witch instead of a vampire.
With the onset of his parents’ divorce, a teenage boy comes to stay with his dad.
He isn’t exactly welcomed by the local kids, who make him the butt of jokes…
With nothing else to do, he soon notices his female neighbor is acting very strange. We notice, too, because if the film has one fault, it’s that it shows way too many scenes of the witch going through transformations. But it’s so creepy cool I can’t complain much.
Before long, the boy is in a battle of wits with the witch as she begins abducting children and dragging them to her underground lair.
Of course no one believes the boy, so he’s on his own. I just don’t know how kids are so brave in horror movies like this, especially when the witch is as freaky as this one.
The Wretched is most definitely the one film in this bunch that I’ll be adding to my personal collection.