Joplyn (Emma Fitzpatrick), a celebrity music artist, receives a mysterious invitation to The Staufen House from a doctor named Justus Frost (Frederick Stuart). The invite welcomes Joplyn and a guest to The Staufen House with various promises, including reaching their full potential in just three days. The Staufen House provides high-class mental therapy, and most celebrities take years to be accepted. Those who attended walked away with impressive and outstanding results. Joplyn accepts and invites her partner, Elijah (J. Quinton Johnson), to tag along.
While we understand that Joplyn has immense fame and fortune, things differ for Elijah. Elijah doesn’t have any fame or celebrity status, instead working at a small business as a mechanic. He instantly feels like he will be out of place at The Staufen House. As Joplyn and Elijah arrive at The Staufen House, they soon find they’re not the only ones who received an invite. Joe (Salvador Chacon), a wealthy businessman and actress superstar Tara (Angela Gulner) are also tagging along. Things become awkward when Elijah discovers that Joplyn and Joe have a history together, including once having a relationship.
The Summoned is best described as a horror as well as a thriller. There are multiple attempts at jump scares and a storyline that attempts to keep audiences regularly guessing, especially during the first act. I found myself extremely curious about the mysterious events, especially as Elijah experiences strange visions and has suspicions about many aspects, such as The Staufen House and his current partner Joplyn. Visually, I loved the look and style of the House.
Performances are generally ok but sadly, nothing overly memorable. The dialogue and the script are a significant letdown; it feels clunky, unnatural and, at times, unintentionally funny. The characters offer nothing new, and every kind of character here feels familiar. It almost gives the vibe that these characters and their cliché characteristics are just carbon copies of several other horror films we’ve all seen.
Speaking of the term ‘carbon copy’, the same could be said about the plot and its significant reveals. While the storyline contains a fun mystery, the reveals are deeply disappointing once they are made. This is for multiple reasons, but firstly, it’s highly familiar and nothing new. Once the big twists are announced, everything built before the revelation becomes questionable, unrealistic, and pointless. Audiences will feel their investment and time spent watching was somewhat wasted. The finale also promises an intense finish, but this seems to fizzle and is less exciting than I hoped and was led to believe.
Overall, what begins as an exciting premise with a few fun, mysterious plot aspects soon falls down the hole of being highly familiar, lacking excitement with a finale that hints at a substantial payoff but only fizzles. The characters here also carry characteristics and personalities we’ve all seen before in horror films. While the performances are generally ok, the dialogue here feels clunky, corny, and even unintelligibly comedic. As a horror film, there are plenty of attempts at jump scares and unsettling moments, but sadly, no significant impact is ever delivered in the end. Sadly, The Summoned tries hard to have something substantial, but its familiarity and unpleasing reveals hurt this film the most. Fans of Jordan Peele will undoubtedly benefit from checking this one out the most, but I felt my time viewing it had only been wasted. The Summoned is Available on Digital from December 21st!