1st Summoning Image

1st Summoning

By Nick Rocco Scalia | February 25, 2019

None of these actors, nor Chris Piner’s screenplay, is very successful at making these people or their various interpersonal conflicts much worth caring about. In an unusual move for a found-footage film, though, at least their dialogue is all perfectly audible – it’s as if all four of them never remembered to take off their lav mics, even during otherwise very intimate conversations.

“…takes its otherwise familiar premise into a few interesting and unexpected places, and it boasts a memorable wallop of an ending.”

1st Summoning does have one really compelling character, a shifty pastor played by Jason MacDonald. Initially, the group runs across the ominously named Pastor Youngblood while shooting some B-roll on local history, but soon, they’re sitting down with him for a very uncomfortable interview that touches on Satanic pacts and murdered children. MacDonald’s piercing stares directly into the camera are among the most unsettling things in the movie, and his scenes represent a decent-enough attempt at a Lynchian type of down-home creepiness.

And then, of course, there are those closing sequences, which are surprisingly skillful at making a not-terribly-foreboding industrial setting seem as menacing and inescapable as intended. Some of the usual found-footage complaints do still apply (“Leave the camera behind, stupid!” is the modern-day “Don’t go in the basement!”), but credit the filmmakers for steering clear of wonky special effects and instead sticking to more grounded, tangibly disturbing frights that are much harder to shake. 1st Summoning‘s final act plays like one of the better-quality segments from the V/H/S franchise, and it suggests that this filmmaking team might have been better represented by an all-killer-no-filler short subject rather than a feature.

But, again, at least audiences will find their patience tolerably rewarded with what 1st Summoning ultimately has to offer. Stick with this one long enough, and you’ll likely get what you came for.

1st Summoning (2019) Directed by Raymond Wood. Written by Chris Piner. Starring Teddy Cole, Hayley Lovitt, Brook Todd, Ace Harney, Jason MacDonald

5.5 out of 10

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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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