Raised by foster parents, Sam claims to remember nothing of her childhood – but it remembers. Discovering she has inherited a property in the small rural community of Sader Ridge, she invites three friends to join her for the weekend. Reclusive caretaker Eric, who was Sam’s former childhood friend, is there to greet them. But something sinister is waiting for Sam in the house – the ghosts of a past she has long forgotten…
After that old horror movie cliché of telling scary stories around a campfire is over, this indie horror settles into its own when Sam learns that she lived at Sader Ridge until the age of five, and that something tragic happened there. But the really creepy stuff kick in when Sam’s so-called friends (they’ve all got issues) start displaying unstable behaviour: which may or may not be just a figment of her imagination? These scenes, while strongly reminiscent of Jack Torrence’s encounters with the Overlook’s spooky inhabitants in The Shining, are the film’s highlight, and the dark tale gets even crazier when the spirit of Sam’s Bible-quoting monster of a dad comes a calling, with the intent of burying her with the rest of his rotted seed.
The actors all play with gusto their well-rounded characters, whose deep flaws are gradually exposed as director Jeremy Berg‘s low-budget indie mystery unfolds: recently dumped Mark (Brandon Anthony) has anger management issues, his ex, Sam (Trin Miller), is a lost soul with no memory of her past, the annoyingly chirpy Caitlin (Andi Norris) is a directionless student, sensitive soul Roman (Josh Truax) is obsessed with his sound recording machine, while ex-soldier Eric (D’Angelo Midili) hides the darkest secret of all.
The ethereal music, by Trip Like Animals, certainly suits, while the mute colours and moody camerawork give the rural scenes a lost-in-time, almost abandoned look. And despite some ‘no shit, Sherlock’ moments, this American Gothic spookfest is a disquieting tale with enough scares to keep the most discerning horror fan happy. But the ‘WTF?’ final shot might just have you scratching your head.
The Invoking is available on DVD in the UK through Image Entertainment, and includes a ‘making of’ featurette and audio commentary with the actors and director Jeremy Berg. The film can also can be rented on YouTube through Content Movies