31 Days Of Horror #2: Invoked (2015)
Five young thrillseekers head off for a weekend in an isolated location. They want to get up to the usual shenanigans, such as drinking, trying to make out with one another, and contacting the dead. As the title may suggest, that last part gets them into trouble. And viewers get to find out all about it through the handy medium of found footage.
Directed by Humberto Rosa and Thairon Mendes, the latter co-writing the script with cast member Aaron Gibson, Invoked is a couple of good jump scares and ideas buried under a sloppy and downright lazy construction of scenes that seem to completely misunderstand the restrictions of the chosen format. If some amateur errors had been corrected then I would have been more willing to forgive some of the other flaws.
Here is what bugs me the most about the movie, and here is what made so much of it feel so lazy. The whole thing starts with a couple of frames that set you up for what you are about to watch. And this is the last line explaining the footage; “The video does not appear to be altered, or doctored in any way.” We then see Garda entering a house and finding a camera. They switch it on. We watch the footage.
Which makes it quite jarring when, just a couple of minutes into this part of the film, someone displays another camera. We then see footage from that camera, as opposed to the first camera POV. Later on in the movie, we are then shown security camera footage. But we can also hear audio. Until later on, when we are once again viewing events through the security cameras, this time without audio available to us (as is the case with most security cameras). This lack of conviction, and lack of proper thought, permeates the entire film, and undermines any reasons for making this a found footage movie. It’s as if people always think found footage films are an easy shortcut, which is a misconception we can all be reminded of every time a bad one comes along.
The cast aren’t the worst I have seen, I guess, but I couldn’t single anyone out, aside from separating the males from the females (Lynn Larkin and Ciara Rose Burker are at least both aesthetically pleasing, which helped me get through some of the more interminable scenes). And it’s yet another one of those found footage films in which none of the main cast members even have to remember a different name – Patrick Murphy plays Patrick, etc. Give me a camera, allow me to play someone named Kevin, and spend 90 minutes scaring the crap out of me, and I am sure I could give you an equally effective performance.
There’s just enough here to please the most undemanding of viewers. The jump scares are obvious enough but I’ll also give the film-makers credit for one or two moments of subtle shivers. Which makes it more disappointing that the whole thing wasn’t given some more care and thought.
DIRECTOR: HUMBERTO ROSA, THAIRON MENDES
WRITER: AARON GIBSON, THAIRON MENDES
STARS: PATRICK MURPHY, CIARA ROSE BURKE, LYNN LARKIN, CRAIG GRAINGER, AARON GIBSON
RUNTIME: 85 MINS APPROX