Now available on VOD is a movie that has a novel premise, but definitely comes across as a knock-off of Get Out, without the smartly written and conceived social commentary. The movie has its moments, no doubt, but fails when it comes to delivering genuine frights. It also feels rather shallow and weak when it hints at actual criticism of real-life human history, but doesn’t quite land its blows effectively. The Summoned does offer a fine visual style and features good performances from its cast; however, the film’s writing is way too shy for its own good.

J. Quinton Johnson (In the Heights) and Emma Fitzpatrick star as couple Elijah and Joplyn. The movie begins with the couple taking a road trip to a self-help retreat, to which they were both “summoned.” Dr. Justus Frost (Frederick Stuart) hosts an exclusive therapeutic getaway in the woods that is supposedly intended to help people find themselves, and deal with their psychological issues. Though musically talented, Elijah has never gotten the break he deserves, and currently works in a job that doesn’t really satisfy him, while his girlfriend Lyn has a lucrative and successful career in the music business.

While they do seem to love each other very much, it seems like Lyn isn’t quite ready to make the serious commitment of marriage. Elijah sees the retreat as an opportunity for couple therapy, and hopes they can work out their issues to take their relationship to the next level. Things get rather complicated when they discover that their retreat mates are another couple, Tara and Joe, (Angela Gulner, Salvador Chacon), who are a recently divorced pair whose marriage ended rather messily. In addition Elijah discovers that Joe once had a relationship with Lyn previously. To make matters even worse, Elijah begins to realize that there is much more to this retreat and Dr. Frost, than meets the eye.

Written by Yuri Baranovsky and directed by Mark Mier (who actually has a supporting role), The Summoned promises so much more than it actually delivers. Once the big reveals get uncovered, I could definitely see the parallels with Get Out, but feel that this movie is a watered down copy cat of its inspiration. The film is certainly watchable and intriguing enought to hold one’s interest, but is ultimately disappointing when everything concludes.

As far as horror is concerned, The Summoned could have done so much more with its ideas, but does nothing to set apart from the more inventive concepts and themes of Get Out. Overall, the movie is fine and entertaining enough, but I cannot give it a strong recommendation. Since it is landing on VOD platforms, at least one can say that they don’t have to spend big bucks to watch this mediocre movie.

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