Friday, July 11, 2014

The Invoking - Review - #GhostStories / #HorrorFilms

The Invoking (2013) **1/2
D: Jeremy Burg
C: Trin Miller, D'Angelo Midili, Brandon Anthony, Andi Norris, Josh Truax

Plot Synopsis: After inheriting a house from the family she never knew, Samantha Harris (Trin Miller) and three friends head to rural Sader Ridge to inspect the property. Soon after arriving, Sam begins to experience horrific visions of savage brutality and unspeakable evil. Plagued by the sinister forces closing in around her, Sam descends into a waking nightmare when the demons from her past refuse to stay buried any longer. 

Review: In The Invoking, a group of friends gather at an isolated farmhouse. From the get go, nothing quite seems right. At first, it's subtle. There's no hot water. Then it progresses to a friend mysteriously disappearing. Then one of the main characters starts to see things that aren't there. And there's the caretaker. On the surface, he seems like a decent guy. He's willing to help out whenever needed, but something about him seems off. 

As the story progresses, one character's insecurities causes friction amongst the group. Another character's past misdeeds come back to haunt them. And as all of this is happening, some back story involving the house and one character's now deceased parents is revealed. Turns out the place has had its share of trouble. The story being told here is always intriguing. The film gives you just enough that you wonder what is going to happen next, but not so much that the film becomes predictable.

Is it the stress that the characters are enduring causing things to boil over? Is one character's sudden recollections of the past manifesting into something insidious? Are the events of the present causing the events of the past to intersect with one another? Or is it the other way around? Or could it just be something supernatural going on? Instead of using cats that jump out of nowhere or loud thuds to scare the audience, the film creates tension from a place that is more truthful by using the behavior of its own characters and there anxiety of being isolated, in the middle of nowhere.

On the performance front, every one is solid right down the line. The actors make you believe in the emotions that the characters are experiencing and as a result, I believed in what was happening in the film. Trin Miller provides a solid foundation for the film. Her performance is the glue that holds this together and keeps you present in what's happening. D'Angelo Midili exudes just the right balance of relatability & menace. This could potentially be a breakout role for him.

It's not until towards the very end that the film missteps. It's one of those endings where the audience is supposed to be cued into some surprise, some big revelation. Just one problem. I was never exactly sure what that big surprise or revelation was. I think I have an idea of what it was that they were trying to go for, but I'm not exactly sure. For a film that comes across as real and authentic, it's not until this moment that the film feels false.

The Invoking might not be able to sustain itself all the way till the end, but the film actually takes the time to establish an atmosphere that becomes so intense, in such a tangible way, that you could cut it with a knife. We might not know what it is that we should be scared of (until the film starts revealing itself), but we (as an audience) know that we should be scared. [Not Rated] 83 mins.

AKA: Sader Ridge

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