Studio: Ruthless Studios
Director: Chris Martens, David Weathers, Calvin Main, Patrick Rea, Kendal Sinn, Ruben Rodriguez, Lee Matthews
Writer: Pablo Castrillio, Anthony Fanelli
Producer: Jesse Baget, Steve Barton, Andrea Monier
Stars: Johnathan Brugal, Garret Marchbank, John Kyle Sutton, Tessa Netting, Margaret Ying Drake, Kurt Hanover, Sally Spurgeon, Jill Szoo, Leandro Arvelo, Jenna Kildosher, Charlotte Armstrong
Nine short stories tell tales of paranormal experiences involving creatures, urban legends, haunted houses, and horror.
“The Invoking 3: Paranormal Dimensions,” or “Poltergeist Dimensions” if you prefer since the DVD box and title screen can’t agree on a subtitle, follows the format of “The Invoking 2” in that it is a mixed nuts anthology of nine unrelated horror shorts having nothing to do with the original “The Invoking” (review here). According to the review I just glanced at as a refresher, I saw “The Invoking 2” (review here) twelve months ago, yet even under penalty of immolation I could not tell you a single thing about it off the top of my head. I suspect in another twelve months time, probably less, the same will be true of “The Invoking 3.”
“The Invoking 3” starts off with “found footage,” unequivocally the wrong foot for endearment to fans fatigued on first-person frights. Text tells us it is 3:06am, although a character claims it is 2:31am in one more instance of film and framing not being aligned. A university professor who looks like he could barely pass for a T.A. enlists two buddies to help search for an underground Aztec temple in some Mexican mines. They get what they came for and then some in a predictable piece that is at least to the point, if light on substance.
In “The Dweller,” Alice discovers that a monster lives within the walls of her apartment. This segment has so little to it that the preceding sentence is both synopsis and spoiler.
Wordless “Selfies” completes the collection’s first third. A mouthless man haunts a woman’s photographs until he finds not only a way into her world, but also a way to finally smile. There isn’t much more to say because “Selfies” doesn’t have much more going on.
The fourth short takes place at Bannon’s Lookout, or Banner’s Lookout depending on if you believe the intertitle introduction or the dialogue. If there is an “Invoking 4,” maybe someone can hire a proofreader to correct all of the sloppy text that is consistently inconsistent. “Prisoner at Bannons” has some throwback “Tales from the Darkside” charm with its lo-fi production value for an EC Comics monster mash. It’s cheap and cheesy, yet weirdly wacky enough to be entertaining.
We’re off to Puerto Piiritu (sic), Venezuela for “La Dama de Blanco.” Wait, don’t they mean Puerto Piritu? Question: Can this movie go five minutes without a misspelling? Answer: No, it can’t. Get a load of how many e’s are used to spell “Home” two segments later. Anyway, “La Dama de Blanco” has more minutes than it needs, but is among the better developed bits in “The Invoking 3.” Being based on an urban legend helps sell the spookiness and its relative depth makes it another standout.
“She Is Not My Sister” continues the foreign flavor with a moody interlude about a brother and stepsister who uncover a playground portal that leads to possession. It all adds up to a sinister hook, as many good horror shorts often do, though the breadcrumbs leading there are equally intriguing.
After three solid segments, “The Invoking 3” dips back into a valley starting with “Heartbreak and the Dead,” a poorly produced piece with more premises than are useful for the plot. “Heartbreak and the Dead” is a melancholic stinger about a mourning lover with a secret that feels an inexplicable urge to tack on an apocalyptic outbreak backdrop it doesn’t really need.
Just when “Bedroom Window” appears to be going in an intriguingly dark direction, it stops. Good start. Empty follow-through.
“3A.M.” wraps up as another woman home alone haunted by a figure in the darkness short. After the widespread awareness of “Lights Out,” it’s going to be a long time before this oft-used concept feels fresh or frightening again.
The trio concluding “The Invoking 3” is as unremarkable as the trio opening the collection. The “in between” three are the only shorts with clear beginnings, middles, and ends. Everything else is all setup, little story. “The Invoking 3: Paranormal/Poltergeist Dimensions” gets a good gust of energy from that midsection, though overall it’s an anthology with more middling misses than memorable hits.
Review Score: 50