Anthology films have been a part of the horror genre for decades. From the British film of the 1940’s, Dead of Night, to 1963’s Black Sabbath directed by Italian legend Mario Bava, all the way through the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and so on, horror anthologies have been bringing fans tales of the grotesque covering any topic you can think of. It seems that the last few years has seen a resurgence in the popularity of these types of horror collections, however. Every year, more and more filmmakers are getting together to bring their short films to the masses by combining their work into one feature-length release. The newest to come out is entitled The Invoking 2 and it features segments from independent directors Jamie DeWolf, Jay Holben, Corey Norman, Adam O’Brien, Patrick Rea, and Jamie Root.
Although hundreds of disturbing paranormal events occur every year, most of these chilling encounters go unreported… until now. Bear witness as hapless victims experience the unspeakable terror of confronting demonic forces, murderous poltergeists and other evil entities that are dead set on claiming their souls. Descend into an abyss of waking nightmares as these bloodthirsty, malevolent spirits seek to possess their prey and drag them—kicking and screaming—to hell.
All focusing on ‘paranormal events,’ this collection of shorts brings the horror community a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Like most horror anthologies, especially ones shot on a lower budget, the work presented is of varied quality. Some of the shorts are brilliant, really utilizing the limited time slots they are given, while others just seem to fall flat on their faces.
The Invoking 2 is made up of six pieces in total. Each one varies in length with the shortest being ‘Melissa’ directed by Jamie Root and the longest being ‘Natal’ directed by Cory Norman. Oddly enough I enjoyed the shortest tale the most. Second to Norman’s two-minute short of a young girl who is calling 911 because a masked man is in her yard is the chapter dubbed ‘Do Not Disturb.’ ‘Do Not Disturb’ is directed by Patrick Rea who is actually the only director in this collective that I have any knowledge of. Quite some time back, Roger and I wrote a team review of Rea’s short film, ‘Counter Parts,’ which was brilliant in every way. In fact, knowing that this man had a segment of his own in this anthology was really the only reason I got excited to view it in the first place. I was not disappointed either.
The talented, unfortunately still fairly unknown Rea took only few minutes to tell his story — A murderer is hiding away in a hotel room where he is continuously bothered by a knocking at his door. Whenever he opens to see who it is, nobody is there. The only thing greeting him is a food cart with nothing on it but a severed hear that happens to be shooting tiny cards out of its mouth, the only form of communication between the killer and his invisible admirer. Without ruining the end for you guys, I will say that Rea’s short, with its overall tone, reminded me of a Twilight Zone segment, and that, my friends, is a very good thing. It wasn’t overly gory and didn’t have to rely on too many flashy effects to get its point across. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, filmmakers and fans alike should take note of Patrick Rea.
My least favorite of the work presented in The Invoking 2, which has nothing at all to do with The Invoking, by the way, was the aforementioned ‘Natal.’ The acting was not very believable and while I did enjoy the practical effects used during the film, I thought it was a little too long and drawn out. This was really the only short during the entire feature that I didn’t enjoy, which is actually a plus in my book. There is always a risk of not liking a piece of a bigger puzzle when there are so many filmmakers thrown together, so one out of six isn’t a bad ratio in the least.
I think a big reason that horror anthologies are seeing an increase in popularity is because of the fact that we live in an age of instant gratification. People today all need things done immediately. With services like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., everything is right in your face all the time, usually a few seconds after the event has actually taken place. This has caused people to be impatient and seemingly lose interest in anything that takes more than a few minutes to get through. That’s where the anthology formula comes in. What better way to get your point across on screen then to do so in only 10 minutes or less? You can present your work to the fans and be much more successful at keeping their attention. I wouldn’t be surprised if this anthology craze kept going for a very long times, so be on the lookout for more and more of these suckers in the years to come.
If you’re a supporter independent horror, I highly suggest you run out a buy a copy of The Invoking 2. It is definitely worth at least one watch and you’ll most likely find something you’re looking for in the collection of paranormal narratives. Pick up a copy on DVD today from RLJ Entertainment.
I give The Invoking 2 2.5 indie directors out of 5.