February 21, 2024

Summoning Sylvia 2023 Movie Review

Summoning Sylvia
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Summoning Sylvia 2023 Movie Review

A gay bachelor party gets mysterious when the group of men recount the house’s legend from a hundred years ago. A woman, Sylvia, slaughtered, and buried her son beneath the floorboards. But things get even worse when Larry remembers he was supposed to be bonding with his soon-to-be brother-in-law, and as he invites him over, the séance begins.

If you hadn’t guessed from that synopsis above, Summoning Sylvia is a comedy horror and thankfully, what it does best, is actually be funny. There are lots of jokes on stereotypes, which could often seem as an easy joke or perhaps lazy but it doesn’t feel like that here at all. The two writers have to take credit for that (Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse who also direct) as the writing is often clever enough to not seem as cheesy as it kind of is. There are times when the writing feels spot on and lines such as the very quotable “Stop gendering ghosts!” are both funny and smart.

The ‘straight’ character here is a great example of that writing. He is, at least initially, absurdly clichéd. A walking stereotype. But it works. Played by the excellent Nicholas Logan (Instant Family, I Care a Lot, Watchmen), he plays it straight (pun intended) to almost the very end. Performances are strong all around though, with the four leads – Travis Coles (Dollhouse, Torchwood), Frankie Grande (Spree), Troy Iwata (Dash & Lily) and Noah J. Ricketts (American Gods) all with really enjoyable and fun performances. There’s also a cameo from Ugly Betty star Michael Urie. There’s a chemistry between the whole cast that is a pleasure to see and it no doubt helps the movie.

In truth, there’s not a whole lot here for hardcore horror fans. If you’re not here, at least partially, for the comedy, then you’ll probably not going to get much from it. That said, the moments that show the houses’ previous nightmares, do actually manage to create some tension and some decent creepiness. There’s a cool horror-fuelled score that is the exact opposite of what happens in the comedy moments but is perfect for the brief scares. Would I have liked to have seen a bit more of the creepy ghost stories? Maybe, but I feel it would have taken too much of the heart of the movie away.

Perhaps what Summoning Sylvia does best is make its audience smile. That was my general feeling throughout its short runtime. There’s a distinct lack of that in many films, well much media in 2023 and this movie might just make up for that. I haven’t seen too many movies (any?!)that end with one big song by a group of drag queens but it’s exactly how this movie should end and indeed does.

There’s a lot to enjoy about Summoning Sylvia, and this queer comedy horror that is full of heart will keep you laughing and smiling (maybe occasionally screaming) from beginning to end.

Summoning Sylvia 2023 Movie Review