It’s unusual that a sequel to a horror film would suddenly switch formats to an anthology, but horror anthologies are all the rage these days. What were once reserved for horror heavyweights like Romero, Savini, and Zemeckis, are now platforms for rising up and comers of the indie film world. I’m glad that these movies are allowing indie filmmakers to show off their short films, as there is a treasure trove of short horror films out there that almost never get seen by a wide audience. Thankfully you don’t have to see the first film to enjoy the sequel, since it basically bears no connections to the original narrative. This time, it’s an anthology of short horror segments with the recurring theme of ghosts and demons.
Jessie Baget who had a hand in the solid horror anthology “All Hallows’ Eve 2,” as well as the underrated horror thriller “Mischief Night,” is the mastermind behind the concept. “The Invoking 2” is sadly a very mixed bag of horror shorts, some that I absolutely loved, and some I was eager to finish. “U-Turn” from Jamie DeWolf is a short but spooky tale of a man driving down the road who picks up a female hitchhiker. Surprised to learn she’s carrying baby with her, he discovers a car wreck on the side of the road and decides to investigate. While the short goes where you expect it, I did like the final twist of the knife in the climax. “Insane” is the best of the shorts.
Directed by Adam O’Brien, it features a young land developer who decides to give a filmmaker a guided tour of a suspected haunted hospital with a violent past behind it. Spinning a yarn about a patient whose baby was murdered, she and the filmmaker begin to realize the hospital’s legends are anything but. Garnering a great twist, “Insane” is creepy and the pay off is sick. “Alone” from Jay Holben packs in the tension but is pretty hollow, revolving around a young girl seemingly stalked by a doppelganger that may be intent on taking her place.
“Do Not Disturb” is a great short from Patrick Rea about a serial killer holed up in a hotel room who begins receiving mysterious cards from an unseen force that may or not be friendly. “Natal” from Corey Norman is well directed but takes way too long to get to the pay off, as a weekend getaway for a group of friends spirals out of control as their suicidal friend is driven mad by mysterious scratching noises. “Melissa” is a weak note to go out on as it bears no real narrative, and is there mainly for a jump scare. All in all “The Invoking 2” has a ton of talent behind it, but the eighty minutes amount to hit or miss horror tales. I hope we get a stronger output if there’s a third film down the road.