Summoning Sylvia is snappy, like the buttons opening rapidly one after another on a ripped-open cowboy shirt — just pop, pop, pop, rapid fire. I loved how it opens right on the séance and then, once flashbacked, catches up back to the séance in 15 minutes flat. Now that’s snappy. Taylor and Wyse ensure everything keeps to the beat and never lets the cheetah-like pacing drag.
The actors maintain the momentum with pitch-perfect comic timing. Coles and Grande are especially adept at landing those gut-buster depth charges. Coles amps up the tee-hees with targeted specificity. Grande has some devastatingly funny reactions, which he whips out with the flair of a butterfly knife. Iwata corners the exaggerated sector of the movie. Tell me you don’t have a friend who plans everything and doesn’t act like Iwata. He also does a spot-on satire of voicemails left by renters for problems with the property. Ricketts obeys the first law of farce and plays his role completely straight (forgive the phrase). At no point does Ricketts act like he isn’t taking his character’s tender but ludicrous emotional turmoil seriously. Logan’s hetero-routine has comic timing so vicious you will break your jaw laughing.
“…summons plenty of laughs and will hold your interest in its bony grip.”
Summoning Sylvia is a mishmash of comedy with other genres. However, despite all the window dressing, I am not convinced one of those genres is horror. Yes, the filmmakers did have the big puffy balls to shoot the movie in a real haunted house in New Jersey. However, this feels not so much like a funny horror feature as it does the “Halloween” episode of a sitcom. The genre that is present and mixed well is some solid drama. I wasn’t so much keeping track of the meat clever much, as I was busy being delightfully scalded by all the piping hot tea being spilled. Despite everyone’s volume being turned up to way past flaming, there are a lot of nuances and emotional jolts between the players.
Each character has a distinct personality instead of just being bricks in a single wall of high camp. I was more interested in how everyone felt rather than waiting for them to die, like in a regular horror movie. Taylor and Wyse should have this bunch return in other themed comedies, like, say, a Christmas movie or the queerest Saint Patrick’s Day ever. Summoning Sylvia summons plenty of laughs and will hold your interest in its bony grip.
For more information about Summoning Sylvia, visit its official site.
"…a mishmash of comedy with other genres."