Written and directed by Wesley Taylor and Alex Wyse, the horror comedy SUMMONING SYLVIA is ridiculous and absolutely fabulous. Three friends kidnap their engaged bestie Larry for a bachelor weekend in a haunted house. The property’s history, and a witchy book of spells, call for a seance. Duh. The group summons the former owner and her son to find out what happened to them. Things get extra spooky when the groom-to-be’s future military brother-in-law shows up. It’s not just the spirits causing trouble. (pun intended)
Magnificent editing from Sara Corrigan keeps the audience on its toes. We jump through time in a single pan of the camera. Bravo to the choreography in these particular scenes. Makeup and costumes from both eras are fantastic. The dialogue is so quippy. It’s fun, heartfelt, and surprisingly deep.
The cast’s chemistry is spectacular. Michael Urie is Jamie, Larry’s fiance. He’s the most down-to-earth of the bunch, with the better part of his screen time in sequences over the phone. Urie can do no wrong in my book. Veanne Cox is Sylvia. Her performance is frightening and downright brilliant. I would watch a stand-alone film on her character.
Noah J. Ricketts is Kevin, the dimmest bulb in the group. His relentlessly horny energy is a fun addition. Opposites attract in this friend group. Troy Iwata is Reggie, the type A of the group. Reggie’s meticulously planned itinerary gets wrecked with the appearance of the very straight Harrison. Iwata’s annoyed bitchy attitude (and rightfully so) made me love him even more.
Nicholas Logan plays Harrison. His overtly masculine energy, physical discomfort, and aggressive nature are a perfect foil for our four friends. His aura forces the audience to take stock of microaggressions and outright bigotry. Logan handles the distasteful behavior like a champ, and Harrison’s arch is a nuanced breath of fresh air.
Frankie Grande as Nico and Travis Coles as Larry are hysterical. Grande’s every beat is delicious. I found my eye seeking him in each frame, and he did not disappoint. He fills every possible moment with specificity, I guffawed. Coles brings mother energy and fierceness like no other. I wanted to have drinks and karaoke with him immediately. I am requesting a Grande-Coles buddy comedy asap.
SUMMONING SYLVIA is one of the funniest queer films of the year. As a theatre girl, I was in my element. I knew these characters. The film’s climax has a dual purpose that beautifully mirrors life and the afterlife. The finale is celebratory. Do not miss this hell of a good time.
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