Summoning Sylvia tells the tale of Larry (Travis ColesSuperstore, Torchwood), who has been kidnapped by his three best friends for a bachelor weekend getaway at a haunted house. As they sashay through the dusty corridors, the comrades recount the house’s legend from a hundred years ago: a murderous woman named Sylvia (Veanne CoxThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Rebound) slaughtered her son and buried him beneath the house’s floorboards. But then Larry remembers that he was supposed to spend the weekend bonding with Harrison (Nicholas LoganThe Inspection, I Care a Lot), his mysterious future brother-in-law. Horrified at his oversight, Larry invites the army-uniformed, hetero Harrison to join his gaggle’s gaycation, neglecting to run it by his friends. Later, as they hold a high-spirited séance to summon the sinister Sylvia, the group ends up welcoming more houseguests than they bargained for.

Written and directed by Wesley Taylor & Alex Wyse (Indoor Boys), Summoning Sylvia takes a bit of time getting into but as soon as Harrison enters the scene, the film looks camp right in the eye. The one-liners are unstoppable, the ridiculousness jumps unashamedly overboard and it’s queer in the most fabulous way possible. It almost feels like a parody on Ryan Murphy’s hit show American Horror Story, but way less disturbing.

Frankie Grande (Spree, Indoor Boys), even though only playing a supporting character, completely steals the show. His banter with Nicholas Logan is bitchy and feisty, but with a razor-sharp edge that would put everyone else to shame during a reading challenge. Troy Iwata (WeCrashed, Dash & Lily) is a joy to watch, as the serene Reggie, who’s here to make sure everything goes according to plan. Noah J. Ricketts (American Gods, High Fidelity) has some nice moments with Iwata, but otherwise his character feels too much like an afterthought. Travis Coles does a fine job as the groom-to-be, but is a bit underwritten as a the main character and only has a few shining moments that’ll get a chuckle or two out of you.

As a horror comedy, the movie relies heavily on the jokes and mostly succeeds in this aspect. When it comes to the horror part it’s never really scary. It helps that the score and sound effects are from a high quality, because the story is rather bittersweet and paper thin than it is frightful. Summoning Sylvia might not reinvent the genre, but it’s a nice shift in queer cinema I hope some writers/directors feel inspired by.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed online (screener provided by publicist), March 31, 2023. Running time: 74 min.

PRODUCTION: A Cody Lassen & Associates, Diamond Dog Entertainment & Book of Spells production. Producers: Cody Lassen (p.g.a.) & Jesse Stelnaker. Executive producers: Greg Gertmenian & Jim Head.

CREW: Directors/writers: Wesley Taylor & Alex Wyse. Cinematography: Matthew Roveto. Editing: Sara Corrigan. Music: Max Mueller.

CAST: Travis Coles, Frankie Grande, Troy Iwata, Noah J. Ricketts, Nicholas Logan, Michael Urie, Veanne Cox, Camden Garcia, Sean Grandillo & Nick Martinez.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: