Saturday 1 April 2023

Summoning Sylvia (2023) - Comedy Horror Film Review

Summoning Sylvia is a LGBTQ comedy horror film which is the feature length directorial debut of writers/directors Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse. With a run time of just under seventy five minutes this didn't have time to outstay its welcome, and was actually a pretty enjoyable movie, despite a lot of the humour not hitting.

Larry (Travis Coles - Brooklyn Nine-Nine TV series) has been taken away by his flamboyant best friends, Nico (Frankie Grande), Reggie (Troy Iwata - What Lies Below), and Kevin (Noah J. Ricketts - American Gods TV series) for a bachelor weekend at a house that is reputed to be haunted. While there, they decide to hold a seance to try and get in contact with the spirit of a woman named Sylvia (Veanne Cox - The Mandalorian TV series), someone who once owned the house, with the legend being that she murdered her son there, before being killed herself by an angry mob seeking justice. Not long after sees the arrival of Harrison (Nicholas Logan - Watchman TV series), the very serious and very straight army brother of Larry's future husband, who is put off by the gay antics of the group. With unexplainable noises around the mansion, and with Harrison's behaviour becoming more and more psychotic, the friends come to believe that their séance was successful, and that Sylvia's spirit has come to possess Harrison.

With the majority of the characters here gay, this fits the LGBTQ tag, but as always, this works perfectly fine as a comedy horror, without that needing to factor in too much. There were a couple of sex scenes, played for laughs more than anything, while the horror was slight, as to be expected with a comedy horror. I thought the chemistry between the four friends was very good, they're overly dramatic way of speaking led to a chilled and relaxed atmosphere. At first I found Harrison to be as unpleasant a character as he was portrayed to be, with him bringing down the fun tone. Thankfully, this is a comedy horror which didn't need a bodycount, there are definite scenes of horror, but the threat remained wisely low.

The comedy didn't appeal too much to me, but as I always say, anything which doesn't revolve around sex or bodily functions is fine with me, the humour here was inoffensive, and there were a few parts that were amusing. One scene for instance had Nico mistaking the pizza delivery guy for a ghost, which led to a funny back and forth between the two, with both thinking the other was talking about something other than what they actually meant. While this could have easily all been set in the present, there were flashback sequences that play out to show what happened with Sylvia and her son. I liked how these were integrated, blending the present and past together in a way that never stilted the flow. Characters had more depth to them than expected, with some getting somewhat satisfying character arcs, such as Larry who feels the need to repress his true self in order to try and appeal to Harrison's blinkered viewpoint. Aside from a song and dance number towards the end, I really didn't mind the movie, it was laid back, and told its story in a decent enough way.

The intention here was obviously to be funny first and scary a very distant second. The plot at least leads to some entertaining moments, with the hook of if the house is actually haunted or not being something I was interested to see be resolved. A good cast of likeable characters led to this being a good choice of movie to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon (being Sunday at the time of writing). The Horror Collective released Summoning Sylvia in theatres nationwide in North America, with Cable VOD and Digital HD releases coming on April 7th.


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