The Bottom Line
An admirably restrained but ultimately dull "old dark house" effort.
- Aims for atmosphere over cheap scares
- Makes good use of its micro-budget
- Amateurish acting
- Lame attempts at humor
- Slow pace
- Dull mystery
- Starring Trin Miller, Brandon Anthony, D'Angelo Midili, Andi Norris, Josh Truax
- Directed by Jeremy Berg
- Rated NR
- Release Date: February 18, 2014
The Invoking DVD Review
Having found out she's adopted, Sam receives word that she's inherited a house from her late aunt -- a place she called home for the first five years of her life. She doesn't remember anything from before the adoption, but she heads to the isolated country home to check it out with her ex Mark and friends Caitlyn and Roman. They're met there by Eric, a secretive young caretaker who shows them around. He says he and Sam used to play together when they were kids, and he remembers her birth parents, but he's tight-lipped on details. As the group spends more time there, Sam begins to hear voices and see visions of her friends acting strangely and talking in voices not their own. Now, it's up to her to uncover the secrets of her past before it costs everyone their lives.
Formerly known as Sader Ridge, The Invoking deserves credit for trying to deliver a horror story that's heavy on atmosphere and doesn't rely on blood 'n guts and cheap scares. In the process, it reveals why so many genre films rely on those things: without them, it's a snoozefest. To be fair, those things alone wouldn't have fixed what ails this movie. The pace is lethargic, the acting is amateurish, the dialogue -- complete with lame stabs at humor -- is banal, and the revelation of the mystery isn't shocking or particularly interesting.
The Invoking was reportedly made for just $11,000, and it's a good accomplishment for that level of investment, but it's not exactly The Blair Witch Project. Director Jeremy Berg makes good use of the natural sounds of the secluded country setting and admirably strives for a "slow boiler" of a film, but it takes too long to get to the spooky stuff (which isn't all that spooky), meaning we have to suffer through inane banter for the bulk of the running time. In the end, there are a few questions that could be clarified and a few details that could be interpreted one way or another, but frankly, I didn't care enough about the characters to dwell on them.
Special features include commentary and featurettes.