Movie Review: 1st Summoning (2018)

February 22, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Being a found footage flick the following sinister synopsis for 1st Summoning is going to sound awfully familiar to any cat or creep familiar with the genre: four student filmmakers set off to the east end of fucking nowhere to shoot a lil’ demonic doc about a location reputed to be a hang out for a Satanic cult. Along the way, they talk to various towns folk foremost of which is the ultra-weird Pastor Youngblood (Jason MacDonald), a dude that just screams “I’m in on this Satanic shit like fucking gangbusters you hipster filmmaking doofuses…now here, eat my avocado toast of DOOM!”…wait, where was I? Oh yeah, these folks bicker, ass around in the dark and the woods, and find that the evil rumored to curse the land is still very much a thing!

While the story of 1st Summoning isn’t going to set the world ablaze with it’s stunning inventiveness and originality, it really doesn’t have to. This is a fright flick that isn’t even trying to re-invent the wheel; rather it’s trying to present some solid scares, have characters you don’t actively hate (a downfall of most of the found footage genre if we are being honest), a picture you can actually see, and the presentation of a world that feels believable. So how does it fare in those goals?

Not always great, unfortunately.

Let’s start breaking those points listed up yonder down a bit. Starting with the scares…and here comes downfall number one; you can expect the bog-standard jump scares and audio cue spills and chills for the majority of the runtime (when we finally get to them after all of the endless jawing the cast works through). As for the “characters you don’t hate”; again, these are the usual obnoxious, in-fighting fools we are used to in pictures like this…and they also have changes of allegiance as the evil become more pervasive (as you may have guessed, the folks behind this really dig on The Blair Witch Project)…though as mentioned above, MacDonald is truly a sinister presence as Pastor Youngblood, and his performance is top-notch and intentionally off-putting…but while we are talking about annoying; there is this “camera glitch” effect used throughout the film that is truly balls and will doubtless have you flipping of your screen every time it occurs (fair warning, your finger will cramp up quick should you decide to do this as that crap happens like every 5 seconds…or at least feels like it does).

As for the latter two points, this film does feature “shaky-cam” a -plenty, but never do you feel like you can’t see what is going on, and as for “world building”…well, here is where 1st Summoning excels. I dig on ’70’s style occultism as you boils n’ ghouls well know, and this film has that vibe with it’s strange Satanic alters, unholy symbols, robed and masked acolytes, and blood ceremonies. These fine fiends make for suitably arcane antagonists, and unlike other found footage flicks; you actually get to lay your putrid peepers on ’em! Also of note is the abandoned building the third act takes place in; it’s a suitably rundown and eerie location, and the filmmakers make good use of it.

If you love found footage, or just want to see a flick featuring an evil cult, you could do much worse than 1st Summoning; it’s a pretty standard affair, but it does have some frightful fun to offer those that seek it out.



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