Review: ‘Invoke,’ A Horror Short for the Modern Era

Zombies are great. Maybe a weird way to start a paragraph but it’s true, they really are awesome, same as werewolves, mummies, vampires, and so many other abominations that have haunted the collective nightmares (or dreams depending on how you look at ‘em) of horror enthusiasts everywhere for decades. But in order to keep things fresh within the community, it can’t all be ghosts and ghouls. Art must reflect the period it was created in, and while it doesn’t necessarily have to mirror and regurgitate society, it has to at least trend in the same direction as the population experiencing said art. Otherwise, you lose traction as the years go by and you become a cliche. That’s why features (and in this case shorts) like Invoke are so important to the genre.

Directed by Featured FearMaker Carlos Omar DeLeon, Invoke starts with a simple enough concept. Before bed, a nameless young woman (Debbi Jones) says goodnight to her boyfriend (Brett Dejager) when just before she is about to go to sleep she receives a text message from one of her friends. The text includes an audio file and an instruction. “It works. Play the audio file.” The nameless young woman then plays the file, a short documentary profiling a murderous woman named Eliza Braum. At the end of the short file, the narrator informs us that this woman supposedly believed she could be resurrected through “the windows to the soul” by someone uttering the words “Emcroe Sharbett.” Skeptical, the nameless young woman nonchalantly says the strange words, expecting nothing more than the peace and quiet of an empty house, and getting a great deal more than she bargained for.

From start to finish, (and the five or so minutes in between) Invoke is a very colorful film, both in a literal and figurative sense. On one hand, Director of Photography and Editor Shaun O’Connell creates an almost dream-like atmosphere with his bizarre lighting and daring use of color and shadows. On the other hand, writers Carlos DeLeon and Vorasine Vince Phrommany, have created a short but sweet work, if you consider a horrific death at the hands of an unprovoked mirror ghost to be sweet, that in its own way creates a new sort of creature for us to fear, that is cleverly associated with and at times even works through cell phones.

At the end of the day, while mummies and zombies will always hold a special place in our hearts for the thrills and chills they gave us in our youth, true horror stems from turning the innocuous into malicious. And I can think of no film that does this better in five minutes than Invoke