Last night was Friday, and Friday nights are my time to stay up late after everyone else has gone to bed, and watch my stories. My scary stories. So on this Friday evening I popped in “The Invoking 2” from RLJ Entertainment, which was just released on the sixth of this month. Did I enjoy it? Did it make me angry and want to rant and rave? Was I indifferent? Read on, readers…read on and see.
JUST THE FACTS MA’AM:
First things first. “The Invoking 2” is the nominal sequel to 2013’s “The Invoking.” I say nominal because the original was a standalone film, while part 2 is an anthology movie. However, I did note a couple of moments in part 2 that hearken back to the plot of the first so there is a tenuous connection and if you’re a diehard fan of the first, it’s probably kind of fun to see them and go, “Hey! That’s just like in the first!” Being an anthology film, there were several directors, one for each of the 6 sequences; Jamie DeWolf, Jay Holben, Corey Norman, Adam O’Brien and Patrick Rea. As I said, this was put out by RLJ Entertainment and Ruthless Pictures and Andrew Fleming, Jessica Frastus and Chara Victoria Gannett (amongst others).
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY:
So yes, I did enjoy this movie. It was a pleasant surprise. As you regular listeners may know from
many of my Straight to Video Russian Roulette reviews, I’m not easy to please. All too often I get frustrated at obnoxious characters and shitty writing. This one hit me in the right place. I enjoy a good anthology movie because I like tight, concise little stories (which is why I read more horror anthologies than novels as well). This movie hadsix segments each featuring different characters experiencing different paranormal events (though there does seem to be a through line that is telegraphed by a particular sound effect).
The stories had a very urban myth/campfire feel to them and that appeals to me. They’ll feel familiar to you and some people might feel like they’re not breaking any new ground. That’s true, the movie isn’t going to flip your brain over and give it a good brain-butt pounding but they handle these tropes well. There’s a reason we return to “the road ghost” story, “the abandoned mental hospital,” “bumps in your otherwise empty house,” “cabin in the woods,” etc. It’s because they’re potent themes and we want to go back to them over and over again. What I like about this movie is that it strips those themes down to their bare essentials and fills out the parts that each story is meant for. For example, my favorite segment deals with an abandoned psychiatric hospital, which we have gotten a glut of in the past few years (American Horror Story: Asylum, Session 9, Stonehearst Asylum, Exeter, Greystone Park, Grave Encounters–the last one being the only one I liked). We all know the details: It has a sketchy past filled with atrocities, awful living conditions and medical staff taking advantage of forgotten, mentally broken patients, leaving the place full of uneasy spirits. It’s fertile ground for terror. The essence of this story archetype is showing off the artifacts left littering the darkened halls in the present that evoke the nasty events of the past. The viewer is supposed to see those rusting wheelchairs and gurneys and imagine the poor souls being wheeled through the hospital, howling their delusions to cold, clinical ears. We’re supposed to see the rooms with maybe a bedframe left in it, maybe writing still on the wall and contemplate the patient who rotted away their mad existence there. Then we’re supposed to think about the people walking through that abandoned place and worry about their safety from whatever ghosts might haunt the place. It’s all about atmosphere and this little story hits all the right notes. Yeah, I knew what was coming but I enjoyed settling into the scenario. Like a haunted house at Halloween. I enjoyed being toured through the place and hearing the yarn spun out for me and when it reached its climax I was like, “Mmm, yep, they got it.”
I appreciated how seriously the writers and directors took the project. It wasn’t played for cheese factor. The characters, while not overburdened with a ton of fleshing out, were all relatable enough to be our stand ins as they navigated through each tale. The acting was handled well and the writing and dialogue were solid. It looked good, and they seemed to use their budget wisely, especially in terms of the locations they chose. All the directors did a good job of building dread and then popping the bubble at the end. These were like little spooky candies that you suck on, relishing the flavor, until you get to the gooey, bl
ood soaked center.
RECOMMEND OR RECTIFY:
So this is a definite recommend for me. Especially if you’re looking for something spooky to watch, maybe for your Halloween movie marathon. It’s not going to throw any real curves at you but it will feel comfortably creepy and fun. I don’t have a rating system (because I’m not that kind of reviewer) but just saying I liked it should be enough for you to say, “Oh, damn, it must be good then” BUT for those who like a star system, I give it 3 out of 5. Go check it out!
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