Review: Summoning Sylvia

Written and directed by Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse, a gay bachelor party turns spooky when sinister spirits are suddenly summoned. Starring: Travis Coles, Frankie Grande, Troy Iwata, Noah J. Ricketts, Nicholas Logan, Michael Urie, Veanne Cox, Camden Garcia and Sean Grandillo.

If you watch the trailer for Summoning Sylvia and you think ‘okay, this is going to be camp, silly and involve a lot of tongue in cheek jokes’, then you’d be right but if you think that’s a bad thing, then you’ll be missing out on the fun. Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse create something that’s both exactly what you think it’s going to be but so much better. Why? Because it’s being made by filmmakers who understand the gay community, not by those trying to emulate it and falling into horrible clichés and stereotypes.

You can pretty easily tell that Taylor and Wyse’s backgrounds involve a lot of theatre and musicals by how Summoning Sylvia. It has a flare for the dramatic and a desire to break out into sporadic song and dance. That part might not be hugely surprising but what is, is how the supernatural, haunting element of the film works extremely well. The balance of that bubbly, funny, catty atmosphere with the sinister spirits of the house is right on the money. Partially because it digs into one of the classically underrated areas of horror which is how our own imagination heightens fear and anxiety. Building tension through how worked up your characters get themselves at any unexpected sound or movement, is always a good plan.

Taylor and Wyse’s direction is another great reason for why that balance works. It adapts the tone and atmosphere as the story moves through each different element. It’s darker with quicker editing when the supernatural factor takes over but when it’s just the characters enjoying the bachelor party, it’s lighter and colourful. Granted, it may have a touch of predictability about it but it’s not so much that it takes away from how entertaining the story is.

A big part of why it is so entertaining is the combination of personalities coming from the key quartet of Travis Coles, Frankie Grande, Troy Iwata and Noah J. Ricketts. They each have strong, individual characters but they’re all wonderfully in sync with their sense of humour and love of all things performing. Immediately they create that feel of an entrenched friendship and the different dynamics that go along with it. Coles is lively and eager to please but not a pushover, Grande is overtly sexual and confident, Iwata is ultra organised and particular, while Ricketts is sweet and sensitive. They’re a lovely ensemble and it’s hugely enjoyable to watch them at work.

Summoning Sylvia is entertaining, funny and delightfully camp. Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse create a comedy horror that blends the supernatural with the flamboyant for a surprisingly good time. The cast all bring huge personalities that make for a greatly enjoyable combination. At the same time it’s exactly what you expect and plenty that you won’t but most of all, what makes this film a success is that it has a good time and so will you.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10


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