Anthologies are not always easy to pull off. While it is not a hard-and-fast rule, in order to achieve the desired scare, there usually needs to be an efficient amount of time dedicated to character and story development. In an 83 minute film, to achieve the proper setup for those scares within six separate stories is no easy feat. However, The Invoking 2 does a fairly decent job. Assisted by a few good performances and some intriguing ideas, the film manages to succeed with most of the stories contained within the anthology.
One thing working for the film is that it is aimed at a generation surrounded by technology, encouraging shorter attention spans. While that should not suggest that films become shorter in order to appeal to those attention spans, this feature is designed to that appeal and for that reason is more successful than not. Each story is roughly fifteen minutes long so once it has run its course the audience is then presented with a new story and the cycle continues. While The Invoking 2 does succeed in presenting these short stories in intriguing ways, some problematic elements are apparent within the film. A few questions left unanswered can be useful in leaving the audience pondering deeps thoughts, but too many questions left unanswered can just leave the audience pondering. In addition, a few moments of the picture feel a little imitative of previous works.
The film opens with a scene to set up the theme of what is to come for the audience. Basically, the idea is that the supernatural is at work all around us and its source is unknown. Within The Invoking 2, this idea occasionally works and at other times the idea is better in theory than execution. The theme works best among two of the stories in which the question is pondered whether insanity is a creation from within us or due to menacing external forces. From both of these stories there is a similar theme centering on a young woman and how her sanity has previously been in question. In the story, “Alone”, a woman (Becka Adams) is attempting to break away from a medicated life. In “Natal”, a young woman (Jessica Fratus) had a breakdown prior to the current events and is attempting to remain medicated without overdoing it again. Both of these stories climax with each of the women having to face their own personal demons. However, the question becomes whether or not the demons are something they can control from within or if instead something they must battle externally. The story presented in Alone is even further chilling in its suggestion that no one else really knows what happens when we die with nobody else to witness what has happened. No one really knows what final forces we might have to face.
The idea of dying alone with only sinister forces around is also explored in another story within the anthology called “Do Not Disturb”. In this story a serial killer (Allen Lowman) is forced to face what it would be like for him to be the one stalked. While Lowman does give one of the more genuine performances of the anthology, this is one of the lesser stories. There are some mildly intense moments yet there are too many unanswered questions. While the theme of The Invoking 2 obviously calls in a suspension of disbelief, there must be some definite logic contained in order to successfully translate to the audience. Without this translation and logic, the audience is somewhat let down in terms of the final payoff. The segment, “Insane”, also loses some of its credibility by giving the viewer a sense of déjà vu with its recycled ghost story. The viewer is reminded of The Blair Witch Project with its recounting of a female ghost and Chad (Andrew Fleming) even takes out his mobile camera for a POV shot. The next few moments are told through the POV style in a way very derivative of The Blair Witch Project or any of the Paranormal Activity movies. One saving grace for this segment is when Chad, as a burgeoning director, states in an almost self-aware way that what they are looking at wouldn’t be seen in the “cheesiest” of horror films. Interestingly enough this is part of the anthology with the most computer special effects and it takes away from the intended scare. The other segments using less tend to have a greater impact.
While at times uneven, The Invoking 2 is overall a decent horror anthology. Like any anthology, some stories are going to be more effective and compelling than others. There is not a heavy amount of gore when compared to other contemporary films being released. One gets the feeling that in brainstorming for a sequel, everyone pitched around five or six ideas as to what to do for a follow up. Instead of focusing on just one of these ideas, they instead opted to produce all of the ideas in an anthology. This notion actually makes the film work for the most part. Only one or two these stories could have really been stretched out effectively for a single film. Stretching out any of the sections might have produced a movie struggling to be anything other than derivative of earlier works. Instead, what audiences have is several short stories that mostly work in terms of being engaging and unsettling. One or two scenes even made this writer jump a little in his seat. Saved by a few good performances and never lingering too long on one single idea, The Invoking 2 might not rank at the top of the list for many horror fans. However, it fits comfortably as far as an addition to the anthology subgenre. It will be released on DVD October 6, 2015.
WICKED RATING: [usr 5.5]
Directors: Jamie DeWolf, Jay Holben, Corey Norman, Adam O’Brien, Patrick Rea, Jamie Root
Writers: Trevor Botkin, Jamie DeWolf, Jay Holben, Julien Maisonneuve, Corey Norman, Haley Norman, Patrick Rea, Jamie Root, Dave Shepherd
Stars: Andrew Fleming, Becka Adams, Jessica Fratus, Allen Lowman
Release: October 6, 2015
Studio/ Production Co: Ruthless Pictures
Length: 83 Minutes