There’s nothing like a forest bath to soothe the soul until you realize the forest is Bigfoot’s bathtub and he’s looking to bathe…in your blood! Summoning the Spirit directed and co-written by Jon Garcia has the Donkey Kong of cryptids ripping apart a cult of new-age hippies in the middle of the pacific northwest. Horror to some, just another day in the woods for others.
This ambitious feature attempts to blend Midsommar with Harry and the Hendersons, only Harry is a bad motherfucker who is DTBSAF (down to be summoned and fuck). The story follows a couple, Carla (played by Krystal Millie Valdes) and Dean (Ernesto Reyes), as they start a new chapter in their lives after grappling with a personal tragedy involving a miscarriage. They seek out a quiet place amongst the trees to recover and for Dean to focus on his writing. On a personal note, I’ve never related to a character more in my life, a writer who hates writing and needs a CPAP machine to sleep because he snores like Sasquatch choking on owl pellets. The couple comes to find that their serene forest hideaway is next door to a cult that worships “the Spirit ” of the forest, a.k.a. the mascot for Jack Link’s jerky, a.k.a. John Bigfoot (his legal name).
Summoning the Spirit takes an interesting departure from other Bigfoot films. Here, Sasquatch isn’t a monster being hunted but rather a mystical creature and a malevolent protector of the forest who’s worshiped by a group of people who all look like they were conned out of $2,000 to personally connect with nature’s spirit. This film also has a surreal quality, as if it’s out of time. With the way it’s paced, and its disconnected storytelling, it gives off ‘70s cult horror vibes. Unfortunately, director Jon Garcia spends a little too much time on the cult dancing, prancing and preparing for the summoning.
Sadly, with all the summoning going on, Sasquatch doesn’t have much screen time. The majority of the film falls short of building tension between the couple, who are new arrivals/fresh sacrificial meat for the spirit, and the members of the cult who want to snatch them up and offer them to Bigfoot on an imitation-silver platter. The ending employs a fresh twist on Bigfoot that would have made for a much better general plot device rather than being wasted on a climax that’s disjointed from the rest of the movie. It’s as if there are two films taking place at the same time.
Perhaps, if there’s a Summoning the Spirit 2: The Second Summoning, we can see all the fun things Bigfoot did on his day off work before he trudged through the forest to cave in cult members’ skulls.
As the hairiest and most stinky member of the RavMon Writers Crew, I’ve covered a decent number of Bigfoot features and documentaries. Being from West Virginia, I’ve learned everything I know about monsters from the esteemed Appalachian Monster Hunters (yes, the show is staged, but those staged events are just re-creations of the monster hunters’ most famous hunts). So, if you’re like me, and are the type of person who enjoys going deep into the forest to whack sticks off trees to see if Bigfoot whacks off back at ya, then you’re probably not going to dig this movie. However, if you’re the type of person who wants to get away from it all and serve a higher purpose to protect nature’s spirit, boy do I have an amazing deal to share with you! For more details, please follow this link.