Monday, August 12, 2019

First Summoning

1st Summoning

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A group of filmmakers are making a documentary about a legendary Satanic ritual supposedly performed in an abandoned factory in rural America every year at midnight on October 6th. They begin by interviewing the townsfolk, who don't seem particularly aware of the ritual. They interview a very weird pastor (Jason MacDonald) and make a whole bunch of really terrible decisions that result in strange things happening. A love triangle between the woman on the crew (Hayley Lovett) and two of the guys (Teddy Cole, Brook Todd) becomes apparent causing a whole lot of drama. Everything comes to a head when they enter the factory and perform the ritual.


  • The sole highlight of this movie is the one character on the film crew who is not involved in the love triangle (Ace Harney). He is literally the only likable character in the movie, and responsible for the only funny moment in the movie: he finds a Satanic necklace on the floor of the bathroom, says "fuck that" and flushes it down the toilet. Brilliant. (+2)
  • There is one decent scare when a bunch of cultists appear out of nowhere, but they make that horror movie squealing noise for no reason which cheapens it (+0.5)
  • Jason MacDonald is pretty good as the creepy pastor, but his character goes way over the top cheesy-creepy in a short period of time (+0.5)
Total: +3

  • I generally don't like found footage horror movies for a lot of reasons, but mainly because they're very difficult to do well. This movie feels like a catalogue of how not to make a good found footage movie, for the following reasons (-1)
    • It includes a bunch of material that nobody in their right mind would a) record, or b) leave in a final edited piece (-1)
    • The audio is mixed so low at some points I had to just take the subtitles' word for it that there was audio. This issue isn't specifically tied to this being a found footage movie, rather it's because this movie is extremely cheap, but those two things go hand in hand anyway (-1)
    • Teddy Cole's character is supposedly an award winning documentary filmmaker but kept fucking around in all of the shots and never once instructed any of the crew to do anything useful (-1)
    • I don't understand why they needed four people on this film shoot. They had two people to film, one person to ask "are you getting this?" every fifteen minutes, and one entirely superfluous person (-1)
    • They weren't getting nearly enough material to make a documentary. For a found footage movie to work, the characters have to either be believable amateurs (in this movie they're not because it opens with some blah blah about the guy's last movie that won something), or it has to be convincing that the footage being captured is going to be used in a real documentary at some point. I can't even imagine what the documentary these people were filming would have even looked like. They have like three interviews, they dick around in the woods for a bit, and then they go to do the ritual. That's like ten minutes tops after editing. If they had been reporters doing a short piece for a slow news day or something, maybe that would have been believable, but I never got the impression that that's what they were doing (-1)
    • At one point, Hayley Lovett's character dons cultist attire in order to blend in and escape, but leaves the camera rolling under her robe. That would probably look super obvious, even if it's a small camera? At some point, you have to abandon the camera and just try to get away. (-1)
    • The glitchy camera effects don't make the movie scarier (-1)
    • Finally, how exactly was this footage found? The conceit is that this is a screener copy of the film, but who edited it? The main guy? Coz he's on camera brutally killing his friends, so I don't see why he would want to release it? (-1)
  • Horror movies don't work without their characters making bad decisions at some point, but the decisions made by the characters in 1st Summoning were overwhelmingly bad. Probably the worst offense was Ace Harney breaking into the pastor's house to get some information and filming the whole time? Like, okay, he brought the camera so he could record what they were looking for instead of outright stealing it, but recording yourself doing a B&E is beyond stupid and risky (-1)
    • In another shockingly bad example of rational thinking, buddy stops trying to escape from cultists to follow a naked dude around through the building. Why? (-1)
  • The whole love triangle thing injects a bunch of artificial drama and isn't even interesting. I don't care about any of the characters, I just wanna see some ritual cult murder (-2)
  • The "twist" is so predictable I had to put scare quotes around the word "twist" (-1)
  • The movie is just really boring (-1)
Total: -15

Final Score: -12 thumbs up

This movie is pretty bad, there aren't really any redeeming features

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