"What you are about to see is evidence pertaining to the case of 5 people that went missing in the west of Ireland whilst on vacation. This footage has been leaked to the public. It has baffled the authorities. It contains their last known whereabouts. The search continues to this day. The video does not appear to be altered, or doctored in any way. "
I could, of course, be extremely lazy and just leave my review at that. The above text introduction opens INVOKED, and is pretty much all you need to know about this film.
What follows are 82 soul destroying minutes of shaky footage culled from the HD cameras, apparently, of five revellers in their early twenties. We first meet them in their car, en route to a vacation where they plan to drink, fuck and talk a great deal. Consisting of three males and two females, the group is unofficially led by couple Patrick (Patrick Murphy) and Kiera (Ciara Rose Burke). Bubbly blonde Lynn (Lynn Larkin), pretty boy Craig (Craig Grainger) and wisecracking Aaron (Aaron Gibson) complete the troupe.
Their destination is an abandoned hostel which is so remote that they have to park their car up and jump in a rowing boat at night to get there. For posterity, I presume, they even film this uneventful journey. Did I say uneventful? I almost forgot, an owl does hoot at one point.
After checking the building out - locating its kitchen, toilet, observing the cameras rigged up to the ceiling of key rooms and so on - our one-dimensional protagonists titter some more while preparing for an evening of booze and dope-related hi-jinks. They're supposedly quite a funny bunch too, given the constant japing and false scares they play on each other.
While smoking joints and swigging from beer bottles, the boys regale the girls with stories about the island's grisly history. A graveyard nearby was built by the mainlanders to exclusively house corpses of evil men such as paedophiles and child killers. So that evil spirits couldn't re-enter their bodies after death, they were buried with their hands tied and rocks stuffed down their throats. Oh, and there's also the small matter of the hostel's gruesome legacy of murder...
Predictably, this all leads to the group deciding to light a few candles and hold a séance in a bid to invoke said evil spirits. It's around this point that footage from the hostel's built-in cameras begins being inexplicably edited into the group's handheld "found footage".
Needless to say, the group's efforts at summoning ghosts appear to be highly successful...
INVOKED takes a tired, over-saturated sub-genre and does absolutely nothing new or fresh with it. This is "found footage" by-the-numbers, complete with monochrome night-cam edits, shakily panicked moments of badly realised pandemonium and that dreaded, says-it-all text introduction desperately trying to convince gullible viewers that all of this is for real.
Of course, the editing betrays this badly, as do the performances. They're not terrible, but they are too mannered to be considered natural. The dialogue, too - a mix of ad lib and script, I'd wager - flirts between annoying and unconvincing throughout.
The huge problem that INVOKED has though is that it's hideously clichéd. A group of youths travelling to a remote location to get stoned, drunk etc? Invoking evil spirits? Their exploits captured on handheld camera? Local folklore concerning evil pasts in the hostel? Co-directors Humberto Rosa and Thairon Mendes' film plays like a tepid patchwork effort which cribs from every no-budget shaky-cam horror flick of the last 20 years.
Left Films' UK DVD presents the film uncut and in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Anamorphically enhanced, the transfer is solid but of course found-footage films always require a modicum of realistic expectations here, due to their penchant for deliberately shaky camera work and cheap homemade aesthetics. For what it's worth, blacks are stable throughout, detail is fine and colours are suitably pronounced. In actual fact, the daytime exterior scenes look very impressive thanks to the HD digital photography.
English 2.0 audio fulfils its task without cause for complaint.
A static main menu page leads us into an animated scene selection menu affording access to INVOKED via 8 chapters.
Bonus features commence with the film's original 94-second trailer.
Next up are two short films from the co-filmmakers, both of which predate INVOKED. The 14-minute "City of Hate" follows events from a house party to a dark end to the night on the streets of Dublin. "The Picture", at 15 minutes in length, is the more intriguing of the two (even if it looks less polished). It's shot in Rio and concerns the mysterious gifting of a strange picture in which the focal point - a girl - keeps changing position. The mixture of melancholic ambience and sci-fi intrigue elevate this one above anything else on the disc.
Finally we get trailers for a short selection of other titles available from Left Films: NINJAS VERSUS MONSTERS, THE 7TH HUNT, DARKEST DAY, SACRAMENT and ZOMBIE RESURRECTION. The disc is also defaulted to load up with the latter three previews.
INVOKED feels tires, dated, clichéd. There really is precious little to recommend here.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Left Films|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|