Review: Dabble in the Occult with ‘The Summoning’

The Summoning is an occult horror film about a group of college students on their way to the party of the year, held annually in a barn in the middle of nowhere. In desperate need of a designated driver, Jared (Brian C. Chenworth) enlists dorky friend Drew. Their party wouldn’t be complete without a few girls– one of which is promised to Drew (as a way to get him to be the designated driver)– and that’s where Casey (Shanna McLaughlin) and Shelley (Amy LoCicero) come in. Along for the ride are Cam (Jordan Wall), who was supposed to be the originally designated driver, and his curmudgeon no-fun and bitter girlfriend Gisele (Elaine Hoxie).

As they drive down a darkened stretch of road, Drew claims to know the area, and thus a shortcut to get to the festivities quicker. We all know how this turns out. When their car goes kaput, they must now wander on foot to their destination. Along the way, they find a dead body and are soon hit with pangs of dread as they continue to wander aimlessly, and clearly lost, in the forest seeking the party but also seeking a way out and haven from potential danger.

As the opening of the film showcases, a group of Satanists congregate and conduct their blood rituals in the dead of night within the very same forest as our friends. Now, the film may come off as dark and brooding considering its subject matter. However, amid satanic rituals and a dark setting, The Summoning starts off playfully light with funny quips and exchanges between Jared and Drew. Jared plays the slacker-esque party boy with a strong desire for beautiful women. Drew is the loser hapless friend who can’t handle his alcohol and is more often than not clouded by misfortune.

As the two bounce off each other, you almost forget what type of movie you’re watching until things start to get very real and their lives become anything but safe. Things really kick into overdrive in the latter half of the film when our cast of characters are chased by hooded Satanists for their rituals. What works to the film’s advantage is its single open, yet constricting, setting. The characters are surrounded by the darkness of night and obstructed by a sea of trees within the forest as darkness conceals all possible danger. The night and those that dwell in the dark are soon closing in on our unfortunate party goers and it is a slow simmer until then making the evildoer’s appearance that more potent, albeit sparse. The Summoning is a fun indie flick that is entertaining and indicative of the indie spirit, made with the utmost frugality and yielding nothing but passion for the genre.

The Summoning stars Shanna McLaughlin, Amy LoCicero, Brian C. Chenworth, Jordan Wall, J. LaRose, John Kyle, Flavio Milicchio, Elaine Hoxie, and Lainie Kates. The film is written and directed by Curtis Schultz. One of the producers on the film is none other than filmmaker Wesley Alley.

For more information on the people behind The Summoning, you can visit both Midnight Releasing’s and Brain Damage Films’ official sites. Also, visit the film’s official site

Check out the official trailer for the film below. The Summoning is now available through all major and most video on demand platforms and DVD as of December 13.