INVOKED

PrintE-mail Written by J. R. Southall

There’s nothing you won’t have seen before in this Irish entry into the found footage canon. The usual tropes are all in place; five teenagers fetch up in an apparently abandoned island hotel just off the country’s west coast, much drinking and pot-smoking ensues, until one of them suggests they create an ad hoc Ouija board and we discover that the island is supposedly haunted. A slide has already revealed that the friends disappeared without trace, and all that’s left to tell is in what order they meet their ends and how.

That’s not quite the whole story, as there are a couple of things going on here which set this film apart from some others of its ilk. Firstly, the entire cast are going by their given names, helping to blur the line between reality and fiction. Then there is the camerawork, which often in this kind of film will be a touch too “professional” to convince of its amateur nature. The pictures here are blurry and juddery, the cameras shaking all over the place; initially this is distracting, but ultimately it’s what gives the film its verisimilitude. Finally there’s the cast; there are in fact only two established actors among the five, and it’s impossible to tell from the universally convincing performances which those might be.

And that’s Invoked’s biggest asset and concomitantly its biggest flaw; the performances are all so natural and credible that the first half feels like an extended home movie – surely the point, but unfortunately in this instance there isn’t enough that is “cinematic” (in either the writing or production) to prevent the experience from feeling like being stuck in a tedious neighbour’s front room as they force you through all the dullest bits of their holiday films. Once the story really kicks in, your involvement in the picture is likely already to be lost.

There’s a heavy Ringu influence, too over-familiar in the seventeen years since the Japanese horror first appeared, to the visuals, which is probably enough to take anyone who knows their onions right out of the film. But for anyone who is still engaged enough to care, there are certain moments during the last half-hour which are genuinely unnerving. The last ten minutes in particular will have your hairs standing on end.

Brazilian director Humberto Rosa has an interesting background in shorts (two of which are included in the package), but it’s a shame he’s chosen the found footage genre for his first full feature in the English language. There might have been an interesting way to tell this story, with a little extra background detail, but sadly there’s very much a sense instead of having seen it all before.

Special Features: Two short films / Trailer

INVOKED / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: HUMBERTO ROSA / SCREENPLAY: AARON GIBSON, HUMBERTO ROSA / STARRING: PATRICK MURPHY, CIARA ROSE BURKE, LYNN LARKIN, CRAIG GRAINGER, AARON GIBSON / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 17TH



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