The Invoking – DVD release from Image Entertainment
I suppose that one of the many reasons why I love the horror movie genre so much is in part due to the plethora of tasty little sub genres within it; Slasher, Religious, Vampire/Zombie/Monster, Gore and Supernatural – to name but just a few. Now while I would normally shy away from categorising and labelling everything and anything within an inch of its life, it’s safe to say that horror for me is a genre that, whatever mood I may find myself in, has always had something that managed to well and truly hit the horror spot in my soul.
For some reason, the sub genre of the Psychological horror, where the power of suggestion, character building and a gradual acceleration of atmosphere seems to divide said opinion more than most……..and for a few months I’ve been hearing those same whispers and heated disagreements about a certain new addition to the collection, but I’ll talk about some of those conflicting views in a little while.
So it was with gleeful chuckle and skip that I received a preview disc sent to me on behalf of Image Entertainment UK . Not only was the theme heavily psychological, so I was going to have to think just a little bit(that will be a first, I hear you say), but also it was also another thing very close to this blogger’s heart, a low-budget independent production, being shot in just one week for an amazing $11,000 dollars.
The film concerned is called The Invoking and I’m saying to you know, you should see it, you really should. But before I get well and truly carried away……….. a little on the what the film is actually about…..
As usual, I will endeavour to shy away from an in-depth spoiler strewn review as seems the annoying habit of many a blog reviewer – just why anybody would want to regurgitate a scene by scene account of a movie and thus removing any semblance of mystery for the potential viewer is simply beyond me. As for those who think they are being cleverly cryptic by suggesting that the ending is a sting/twist/surprise/open ended/closed/satisfying/ambiguous or serenaded by harp playing angels, you still are giving it away you plonkers. So for those of you in bloggerland and reviewland who feel the need to divulge every nuance of a plot, stop it, stop it now.
Anyhoo, I once more digress. In a nutshell, the plot is as follows….
“Raised by foster parents, Sam claims to remember nothing of her childhood…but it remembers her. When she discovers she has inherited a property, she invites three friends to join her on a trip that will change their lives forever.
A young reclusive caretaker (played by the truly excellent D’Angelo Midili), a childhood friend of Sam’s is there to greet them, but something else is waiting for her in the house, something dark and deadly. The ghosts of a past she has long forgotten are coming back to haunt her with a pounding, slashing, raging terror.“
If you want just a taste of that taster then the trailer for the film can be found RIGHTY HERE MATEY
Originally titled Sader Ridge (taken from the name of the location in the movie), The Invoking has already gained a number of film awards including Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Music Score at the 2013 Dark Carnival Film Festival. The film was named the best horror film of 2013 by Horror-Punks.com. The website also named D’Angelo Midili as the best actor of 2013 for his portrayal of the caretaker, Eric. If that wasn’t enough, it also won the Audience Award at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival last year.
That awkward moment when you run out of milk…..
Now, so far so good? Well yes……and no. Yes, because of the aforementioned critical accolades, but also no, because from what I’ve seen so far there are some who have rather misread and misjudged this movie on two major counts. Firstly, for some people it seems that this is a plot theme that is all too familiar, namely a group of young college kids taken out of their city comfort zones and who find themselves locating to an isolated, countryside setting only to find out that the locals may not be quite what they seem. And yes, when one first watches The Invoking, I too felt more than a twinge of deja vu at the very beginning as I waited for the family of slashers or Blair Witches to jump out faster than Bruce Campbell himself could hope to cope with. However, I soon realised my mistake, because the filmmakers have added a clever and subtle subtext to plot that many people clearly have missed – but more of that shortly. Instead I’ve noticed a few somewhat lazy comparisons to other movies.
In fact if I see another comment (and there have been one or two) that it has any sort of resemblance or connection to The Conjuring I may well pick up the nearest chainsaw myself. You see, this superficial assumption would be a mistake, because underneath this veneer of cliched familiarity, there is far more intelligence and textured character building on show here than you could shake at Hitchcock thriller at. If there is any resemblance at all between this and any other production I would wager that it is due far more to the films distributors than to the filmmakers themselves.
This then leads on to what seems to be the second misjudgement that in my opinion, some who have viewed the movie seem to be making, namely the films pacing. Yes, the pace of the film may not quite be at the ‘lets slash em up before the words character and development can even be muttered’, but this doesn’t mean that it is tedious or boring. On the contrary, we are given time to listen in and experience the relationships of the characters as grow (and in some cases, deteriorate) with the story. We may not necessarily like all the characters, but we certainly get to know them and empathise with them when events reach their inevitable climax.
I really don’t want to sound like an elitist horror snob – I love mindless onscreen violence as much as the next person…….but just because we are asked to think and consider the actions and behaviours on screen doesn’t mean that the tension and chills are any less than a good old gore-fest. There is room for both you know.
But the inverted snobbery from some who regard the slow build up as an exercise in tedium have made a misjudgement of the film of major proportions. Yes the build up may be slow, but as a result of the time spent on developing certain characters, by the time events start to become violent when we the audience have become so emotionally invested the eventual impact is tenfold. For example, we even genuinely sympathise with one particular individual who has to commit the ultimate act of violence. This person clearly wrestles with the act but commits to it without hesitation once the decision is made. It looks at face value like a casual act of violence, but that would be a mistake to assume so – it is a scene of beautifully subtle acting and results in genuine horror.
Hey, I can see my house from here!
The excellent D’Angelo Midili.