SUMMONING THE SPIRIT Review: Before You Buy That House, Watch This

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
SUMMONING THE SPIRIT Review: Before You Buy That House, Watch This

It's tough to get any peace and quiet when your next door neighbor is a cult.

Summoning the Spirit
The film arrives Tuesday, August 8, 2023, on Digital and DVD platforms, via Dark Star Pictures.

Buoyed by their shared joy that they will soon welcome their first child into the world, Carla (Krystal Millie Valdes) and David (Ernesto Reyes) take a big step forward in their relationship and purchase a lovely new home in the woods.

Carla thinks it's an ideal place to start a family, and David is convinced the peace and quiet will help him to complete his next book. They've barely moved in, though, when the baby passes away before birth.

Their crushed hopes and fractured dreams leave them in a vulnerable position when they realize that the people who live on the property next to theirs are kind and gentle, sure, but maybe a little lunatic, too, especially their leader, who is a little too quick to tell David that he loves him -- they've just met! -- and shows a special interest in Carla.

It's enough to make anyone wary, but Carla and David find themselves without any friends in an isolated corner of the Pacific Northwest where it is said that a large, hairy creature stalks the woods. Is Bigfoot afoot? Is there any reason to take those rumors seriously in the modern day? And why are those cult members always smiling and singing?

The original screenplay by Zach Carter and Jon Garcia is filled with friendly people doing ordinary things you'd expect from independent people who live in an isolated area. Naturally, they reject the sugar in cookies, as slapped away by one woman when Carla and David offer them up as a welcome gift. Yet, the group also manifests a collective glint of evil in their eyes at certain unguarded moments.

For much of the running time, the group does not demonstrate much true evil. Instead, there are those moments of menace that suggest something is dangerous in their midst. And a hairy giant walking the woods -- that can't be good, can it?

Ambling at a deliberate pace toward its intended target, Summoning the Spirit takes its time before doing a full reveal of its intentions. It is sufficient, however, to make one pause before considering any real-estate purchase; maybe investigate the neighbors as completely as possible before signing on the dotted line?

Review originally published during the Miami Film Festival in March 2023, where the the film enjoyed its world premiere.

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