Film Festivals Gruesome Reviews

[Review] THE SUMMONED [Overlook Film Festival]: Yet Another Good Reason to Decline Mysterious Invitations

A slick combination of odd-man-out and supernatural horror, director Mark Meir’s debut feature The Summoned is a solid effort bolstered by the lead performance of J. Quintin Johnson as a determined, positive young man who finds himself in — as the film’s title suggests — a hell of a mess.

Elijah (Johnson) and his girlfriend Lyn (Emma Fitzpatrick of Take Back the Night, Unhuman, and The Collection) are going through some relationship troubles. She is a famous, successful musician who doesn’t acknowledge their relationship publicly, and he is a mechanic and frustrated musician who wants to get married and start a family with her. They have both been invited to a highly elite mental health retreat open only to those who have been summoned. They are hoping to make some headway into solving their issues there.

Joining them on the retreat are Tara (Angela Gulner), a well-known and highly narcissistic actress, and Joe (Salvador Chacon), a rich self-help guru. The two also happen to be ex-spouses. This foursome is hosted by Dr. Frost (Frederick Stuart), a charismatic new age type.

A great deal of tension and high stakes take place within the group, with Elijah being offered temptations when he is not being fed suspicions. He is also the victim of some unsettling dreams and mysterious thoughts. Suffice it to say that Faustian bargains are hinted at early on. It all leads up to some surprises that are not always what savvy viewers might expect, thanks to a clever screenplay from Yuri Baranovsky that is peppered with occasional uses of humor to lighten and heighten the darker proceedings.

The cast members all give game performances, with Gulner and Stuart leaning into the more scenery-chewing turns asked of their characters, Fitzpatrick playing things much straighter, and Chacon adding an element of sleazy mystery. Johnson plays off of everyone terrifically, and his character is given a marvelous arc with which to work. Prepare to be floored by a musical number between Johnson and Fitzpatrick, as well.

Meir shows a deft hand in his debut at the helm, staying one step ahead of viewers and delivering a fair share of surprises and intrigue along the way. He also uses some fast-paced editing sequences to further keep things slightly off balance for both Elijah and viewers.

The Summoned treads some familiar territory at times but has plenty of heart and chutzpah to recommend it as an interesting, entertaining watch. Fans of fish-out-of-water horror and Mephistophelean movies should find plenty to enjoy with this feature.  

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

The Summoned screened as part of Overlook Film Festival, which took place June 2–5, 2022 in New Orleans. 

XYZ Films has acquired The Summoned and is planning a North American release of the film in July of 2022.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.