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Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Summoner – Short Film Review

“In a world where spirits of the dead are the most pervasive and dangerous threat we face, the public must call upon the skills of an enigmatic ghost-hunter who gets more than he bargained for facing the most deadly threat of his career.”

Imagine if The Exorcist was stuffed into a blender with a Greggs pasty, then cranked up to puree. Halfway through a cassette tape stuffed with 80s fuelled synth music is tossed in there for flavour. The end result would be The Summoner, the new short film from writer and director James Secker, the man behind ForceVideo.

The Summoner in action.


At a lean 20 minutes, the film wastes no time it making it’s intentions clear. Shot digitally and then heavily trashed in edit it looks like and old VHS tape found in a slightly damp Poundshop bargain bin, with harsh colour tones and heavy contrast. This blends perfectly with the incredible soundtrack to capture that 1980s vibe which is currently trending hard on Netflix.Adam McNab plays the title role, and does great work with very little dialogue. We quickly establish that the summoner is a broken man, hard drinking and smoking with busted knuckles and a set jaw. I was surprised to hear a thick Northern accent emerge, as the film has a very American vibe but this added to the surreal nature of the project.

The editing is tight, fight scenes are kept simple but effective and the attention to detail with authentic props and costumes help round off the retro aesthetic. My only criticisms is that a vehicle used in the film, plus some very modern road signs in a driving montage pulled me out of the 80s for a brief moment. Although I don’t believe that the time setting of the film is established, it was momentarily jarring to have such beautiful detail interrupted but it soon passed. Another scene sees a bystander to the events shout some abuse at our questionable hero, and I wanted to know a little more as to why he attracted such hatred. Again, the moment zipped by and we were back into the satisfying action quickly. It wasn’t by any means a weak moment in the film, it just felt as if it established some potential backstory that we don’t get to see. Perhaps this will be further explored if the project is expanded.

Exorcisms are brutal work.

The Summoner was made on an incredibly small budget, but it doesn’t show in the final product, and is now in submission to festivals around the world where I wish it the best of luck. James Secker is a talented director with a great style and I’m excited to see what will come next. The film will be made available for viewing online in the future, and I urge you to keep an eye open for it.

Official Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NjUJFHUaIo

Original Soundtrack: https://lazerdiscs.bandcamp.com/album/the-summoner-original-soundtrack

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesummonerfilm

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheSummonerFilm

Jamie McKeller is a writer and director who lives behind a desk on the outskirts of York. He eats a lot of soup and drinks more coffee than medically advised. Having spent at least a decade directing theatrical stuff, he had a spark of an idea to attempt making a web series in early 2010. He didn’t have a clue how filmmaking worked. Fast-forward several years, and he’s obsessed. Editing, writing, filming and eating soup with wild abandon. But now he has a beard.

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