Samantha inherits a house and brings some friends with her to check it out. Being in that house brings out some memories from her childhood that she lost a long time ago, and the guy who took care of the place before they arrived is filling in the blanks. But the memories that are unraveled are not of the happy kind, and Samantha is starting to lose it.
It almost seems appropriate that "The Invoking" has been playing festivals with "Found". Not because they are particularly similar in style, atmosphere or even intent, but at the same time they are both interesting spins on psychological horror/thrillers in a "family" enviroment. There's a breath of fresh air coming from both of these movies and that only goes to show that there are still ideas worthy of exploring still. As long as you have familiar ground to start off with.
That's essentially what "The Invoking" does. We've seen a lot of it before: the inherited house and the group of friends that go there, revealing a dark truth about one's family, the friendly stranger, etc. You can probably think of a number of movies involving these things. But that's absolutely fine, because it doesn't get tedious or overly clichéed. "The Invoking" becomes stronger by telling the story of Samantha inheriting her house, and her bringing her friends there, in a rather slow pace. They get there fast, but they let a good hour pass before things REALLY start happening. Much of the mystery of the movie comes from Samantha vaguely remembering things from her childhood, and the approach to it is the best part. Instead of just seeing things or simply remembering them, she sees some of the dark things from her past recreated by her friends. We're starting to see that Samantha doesn't stand with both feet on the ground.
I'd be lying if I said that "The Invoking" hit me hard or shook me. It never quite gets to me emotionally, and maybe certain drastical turns should've been taken to keep us off balance. But "The Invoking" is still a strong independent effort that explores forgotten memories in a way that really intrigued me. I can't confirm or deny that it's a brand new idea, but it was well done and it worked insanely well within the movie.
D'Angelo Midili as Eric, the guy who was looking after Samantha's relative before she passed away (also a good friend of Samantha from the past she can't remember) is the highlight of the movie. His take on the typical "stranger" character is spot on and doesn't fall into some of the traps that we've seen before - such as trying to make the character too weird. There is something about Eric from the first scene and on, but that something doesn't make him a freak or someone to be scared of, in fact he is very believable. I think Trin Miller is good as the lead too, but for whatever reason her role seemed to be missing something that could potentially raise her performance. I can't say I was overly impressed by the rest of the cast, but for the most part they are at least bearable.
If you're into psychological thrillers that are strongly leaning towards horror, and you want them done differently, then "The Invoking" might just be for you. There is a lot to admire about the movie, and I especially enjoyed their approach to revealing Samantha's past. Personally I found something to be missing towards the third act which directly leads to the experience being a bit underwhelming. Still a worthy watch and Jeremy Berg is off to a great start.