First time filmmaker James Secker is the brain behind this gleefully ghoulish short, the latest in a growing movement to capture the sensibilities of faux-retro nostalgia probably best known in the mainstream by way of Kung Fury. The Summoner treads theoretically similar ground in its unabashed love of an imagined crackly-VHS synthwave-soundtracked heyday, but rather than lean too far into its visual gimmickry instead goes for intentionally lantern-jawed storytelling with leaner and arguably more triumphant results than Fury.
A crowd-funded proof-of-concept for a full-length feature adaptation, The Summoner stars Adam McNab as the eponymous supernatural exterminator whose days of tackling bereavement with booze n’ pills™ are broken up only by the occasional house call to face the undead. Delightfully tongue-in-cheek with its knowingly worn plotting, Secker’s film boasts just enough stylistic retro adulation to keep things interesting – ensuring its swift run to the twenty-minute closing mark leaves you firmly intrigued as to want more. In that regard, and owing to the nature of its set-up, it comes as both a compliment and detriment that you’d almost rather see The Summoner form the basis of an ongoing television series than a one-shot feature film.
The fun comes along on a number of fronts, with McNab’s joyously hyper-intense title character playing like a Ghostbustersesque take on The Punisher, a synth-powered soundtrack that’s of note in its own solitary right – yet never feels out of place, and a visual palette that plays wonderfully with the divide between its contemporary setting and ever-present VHS aesthetic – of which some 16-bit-style FX by Force Video provide just one of a number of laugh-out-loud delights. There’s more than enough in The Summoner to see you wanting more – no matter what form that “more” may take – but as a self-contained twenty-minute short, there’s sure to be more than a few deservedly summoned to this one.
The Summoner begins screening in festivals this Summer. Check out the trailer below.