1st Summoning Image

1st Summoning

By Nick Rocco Scalia | February 25, 2019

If the greatest horror movies are tests of viewer endurance, the lesser ones are often, to varying degrees, tests of patience.

It’s actually pretty understandable that very few films in the genre can occupy that former category while so many end up in the latter. Simply put, it’s really hard to maintain and steadily build intensity, dread, and revulsion throughout an entire feature-length movie; it’s maybe even harder to have enough scary things in your bag of tricks that you can methodically dole them out over an hour-and-a-half.

And yet, despite those odds, some movies do it. Other movies are 1st Summoning.

It’s probably worth cutting to the chase, here: this film, which comes to us from director Raymond Wood, has a handful of worthwhile scares, it takes its otherwise familiar premise into a few interesting and unexpected places, and it boasts a memorable wallop of an ending.

A found-footage horror film about a group of aspiring filmmakers who tangle with supernatural forces…”

Sadly, though, most of that good stuff (like the ending, obviously) happens in the last third of the movie, and there’s not a whole lot on the way there to keep viewers engaged. With that in mind, you can take this review in one of two ways: for glass-half-empty types, it’s maybe a suggestion not to bother, but for the more optimistically inclined horror fans, it’s a pep talk – hang in there (said the proverbial motivational-poster kitten), because good things come to those who wait.

A found-footage horror film about a group of aspiring filmmakers who tangle with supernatural forces (those familiar with the genre can go ahead and throw the words “yet another” in there), 1st Summoning concerns an abandoned factory built on land long rumored to be the site of Satanic rituals. There’s a neat, sort of Stephen King-y vibe suggested by the concept of a blue-collar locale beset by ancient evils, but the filmmakers don’t seem terribly concerned with exploring any potentially juicy subtext that might be inherent in it.

Instead, what we get is a lot of fairly standard bickering from four fairly standard horror-movie twenty-somethings. Mark (Teddy Cole) is the project’s mastermind, an award-winning documentarian who’s stubbornly determined to explore the factory and conjure something otherworldly on film; Leslie (Hayley Lovitt), his girlfriend, is a photographer by trade, supportive of Mark’s vision but (understandably) not fully on board with messing around in devil-summoning. There’s also Ryan (Brook Todd), the most apprehensive and rational of the group, and Ace (Ace Harney), who smokes weed, wears loud shorts, and seems to be the only one in possession of something resembling a sense of humor.

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  1. Rochelle Banks says:

    I luved it.

  2. Nikki says:

    Worst film I’ve ever seen, bad acting and the f-bomb overload wasn’t necessary. Don’t waste your time watching it

  3. Claire says:

    Twenty minutes into the film and I’m yelling at the screen, “I want all of them to die!”
    Mark’s acting is the worst out of all of them. Ace’s fake gauge earring, I just want to rip out his ear. The love triangle between Mark, Ryan and Leslie is so cliche. Too much downtime with closeups on actors while they’re trying to show some type of emotion. I’m writing this now while the movie is still playing. The preacher character is the most amusing thing in the film. Sad, I’m rooting for the “bad” guys.

  4. Brandon says:

    Movie freaking sucked. Terrible acting

  5. Ryan Orizabal says:

    As a whole, this film is a dead-obvious knock off of The Blair Witch Project. I know 1st Summoning is not the first film to rip-off the great found-footage horror flick, but at least most of the previous films were a little more subtle.

    Honestly, I don’t understand how a chick like Leslie could go for an egotistic sociopathic douche like Mark. What could she possibly see in him? I get he’s ambitious and motivated, but there are plenty of better men like that who aren’t so inconsiderate. And I feel like he was already f****d in the head before he even started the documentary.

    I know there are PLENTY of horror films with creepy weirdos out there, but I’ve never had the urge to kick any of them in the teeth as I did with this pastor.

  6. reina says:

    this is maybe the worst movie i’ve ever seen 0/10 it is so boring wow.

  7. Luann DeLuca says:

    I am a serious fan of the hand-held camera/found footage genre, but can we please make a movie where 1) the entire film crew is dedicated to the project, 2) no in-fighting, at least not within the first five minutes, 3) the whole crew knows what the film is supposed to be about, and 4) has the common sense to realize the best told movie is with the preacher, not a warehouse. Mark, the “director of the documentary” sacrificed his friends to what end? The conversation with his girlfriend in the first 3 or 4 minutes of the movie was the reveal. He mentions the big film festivals were upcoming, and he wanted in on them. For that to happen, three lambs had to be led to the slaughter to obtain his ambitious goal. I am not as gracious as the reviewer in giving 5.5/10. In my opinion, 3/10 is as generous as I am going to be.

    • Lawrence p marshburn says:

      For those of us who pick up what you’re putting down. Thanks for ruining the film. If u can’t right a comment without giving away the end, please don’t bother jeez

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