Summoning Sylvia

04/07/2023 08:04

Film: Summoning Sylvia

Year: 2023

Directors: Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse

Writers: Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse

Starring: Travis Coles, Frankie Grande and Tory Iwata



This is a movie that I learned about when Justin Cook reached out about potentially watching the screener. I confirmed that I would when I saw that this was horror. I did read a bit of the synopsis ahead of it. Seeing that this was also a comedy made me wonder which genre this would fall more into.

Synopsis: a gay bachelor party turns spooky when sinister spirits are suddenly summoned.

For this one, we start with getting a brief introduction to the characters and the event that begins the haunting. Larry (Travis Coles) is getting married to Jamie (Michael Urie). Larry’s friends kidnap him for a bachelor weekend that they’ve planned. Reggie (Troy Iwata) is the planner. With him is Nico (Frankie Grande) and Kevin (Noah J. Ricketts). An issue arises though. Larry promised he would take Harrison (Nicholas Logan) tuxedo shopping for the wedding. To make up for it, Larry says that everyone is cool if Harrison joins them. The issue here is that everyone on this trip is gay aside from him. Larry also didn’t check either as he’s a people pleaser.

Before Harrison arrives, they decide to do a séance to wake up the spirits of the house. It is haunted and that is why Reggie picked it. Nico fancies himself a witch and together they try to conjure up the spirits of Sylvia (Veanne Cox) and Phillip (Camden Garcia). She is thought to have killed herself and was then murdered in her home. Things might be as they seem. The night takes odd turns as this group tries to solve the mystery and not kill each other as things get revealed.

I decided to go a bit lighter on the recap as this is more about the characters than the actual haunting. Those elements are light to be honest. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad thing. This movie though is comedy first. It is hilarious at that. I’ll come back to that shortly, what I think I should do is first breakdown the characters as that carries the movie story wise for me.

Now each of the characters have their character flaws. Larry is too nice. He is afraid to upset people so he goes with the flow. He avoids conflict. To be honest, I see myself there. He also seems to tone down who he is when Harrison shows up, since his soon to be brother-in-law is straight. Nico is a big personality. He won’t tone it down and I appreciate him for being who he is. This makes for comedy as well. He butts heads with Harrison. Reggie is a meticulous planner and when things get disrupted, it annoys him. Kevin is a romantic who is interested in Reggie. Harrison is interesting as I said. He’s a former military guy who has a bit of PTSD and maybe a drinking problem. The acting here is great from Coles, Grande, Iwata, Ricketts and Logan. They all play so well off each other as I was saying.

Then to shift over to the haunting. What I like here is that we get the lore of what happened. It is thought that Sylvia killed her son, Phillip. The group is hoping to bring them back to find out the truth. This is a section that we see more and more as the movie goes on and I liked that. What I didn’t care for here is that it seems this will be a focal point, but its more of a McGuffin. It pushes the story along and there are reveals there. I’d say that Cox and Garcia are good in their roles here as well.

The last bit for the story that I want to bring up is the social commentary here. I think it is well done. It didn’t feel in your face so you could enjoy this as a haunted house comedy. There is the element of Harrison being the fish out of water. What I love is the normalizing this group of friends and how they live their lives. Having more movies like this to make it the normal is good for cinema in my opinion.

Now I did lie. There is one other thing I want to bring up and that is the horror elements. As a horror fan and reviewer, I wish they would ramp this up a bit more. That is why I feel the subplot with Sylvia is a McGuffin. It moves the story forward, but that seems to be all that it is. The atmosphere is good at times being a bit creepy. This leans more into the comedy though which I’m not always a fan of.

All that I think that is left to go into would be with the filmmaking. I think that this is shot well. The cinematography and editing are good. I like how they will mesh different things together where a character will be doing something and then it will shift to another in the same position. I enjoy that. There aren’t a lot in the way of effects here outside of that, but it also doesn’t need them. Other than that, I thought that the soundtrack was fine. It fit for what we needed here, especially during a montage scene that was fun and another one where Harrison is trying to be ‘part of the group’.

In conclusion, this a fun movie. This is more comedy than horror. That is something I want to establish. We have a great group of characters that feel like old friends. The acting fits perfectly there. The littlest things and the stress of the situation opens unresolved issues. I also think that there is a good message here with how things play out as well. Not sure I could fully recommend this to horror fans though. If you don’t mind one that is more lighthearted, then this is for you. I had a blast here.


My Rating: 7.5 out of 10