DVD Review: THE INVOKING

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The Invoking Review

REVIEW: THE INVOKING / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JEREMY BERG / SCREENPLAY: JEREMY BERG, JOHN PORTANOVA, MATT MEDISCH / STARRING: TRIN MILLER, BRANDON ANTHONY, ANDY NORRIS, D’ANGELO MIDILI / RELEASE DATE: MAY 12TH

What do you call a horror film which isn’t a horror film? Answer: The Invoking. Maybe not the best joke you’ve heard this year but then The Invoking really is nothing to laugh about. Unfortunately it’s also nothing to get scared about, which is a bit of a problem when your audience are expecting something which might at least be trying to tingle the spine a little. But here’s where nervy PR and a shaky faith in your own product backfires; retitled from the original Sader Ridge into the much more lurid The Invoking, this is actually a decent and watchable psychological thriller which has been sold down the river by being falsely marketed as a horror movie. The DVD’s detailed ‘making of’ feature (which is actually more watchable than the movie itself) reveals that the movie’s budget was so tiny that it wasn’t possible to even plan, much less realise, any of the expected jump-shocks and scares of the traditional horror movie. Quite why everyone is so keen to label the film a horror movie when it really isn’t is anyone’s guess…

Still, The Invoking isn’t big or clever enough for it to really matter all that much. What it lacks in horror and gore it makes up for with a fairly neat idea, an atmospheric and suitably remote location (the producer’s childhood home) and some enthusiastic and gutsy performances. Sam Harris (Miller) inherits some real estate (including, if you will, the proverbial ‘cabin in the woods’) and sets off with some friends to check out her new acquisition. Creepy groundskeeper Eddie (Midili) tells Sam that she and her family spent time at the property when she was young but she can remember nothing of it. Or can she? She hears whispered voices, disembodied praying, experiences violent waking nightmares. It seems that the house is exhuming memories best left buried and as Sam becomes increasingly paranoid, none of her friends are safe…

There are no monsters or mutants here, no creatures from the subconscious, no escaped psychopathic lunatics – just a young girl whose long-repressed memories of family abuse and brutality are bubbling to the surface and tipping her over the edge of sanity and into psychosis. It’s an interesting idea and a decent character study,  it intriguingly substitutes expected stalk-and-slash clichés with moments of tension and mounting dread and a real sense that something is not right here even if the story fails to unfold in the way we might expect from having seen far too many movies featuring isolated teenagers stranded in the middle of nowhere. The Invoking is a worthwhile, if flawed, attempt to do something a bit different but it’s been done no favours by its distributors’ desperate attempt to pigeonhole it as something it very clearly isn’t and was never really intended to be.

Extras: Commentaries / ‘Making of’ feature / Galleries



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