Invoking Yell (PANIC) Whimpers Through Familiar Found Footage Horror Beats
Title: Invoking Yell
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Patricio Valladares
Writer: Barry Keating, Patricio Valladares
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Starring: Macarena Carrere, María Jesús Marcone, Andrea Ozuljevich
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2023.
Three women, Andrea (María Jesús Marcone), Tania (Macarena Carrere), and Ruth (Andrea Ozuljevich) trek into the woods to shoot a demo tape for their band. While they are there, they plan to record supernatural activity to aid in strengthening their sound, only they soon discover there is more to fear in this forest than urban legends of dead children.
Plodding, obvious found footage horror awaits heavy metal lovers in Chilean offering Invoking Yell.
A frequent criticism of the average found footage film is the tendency for the plot to get lost in the desire to make it seem authentic. Invoking Yell is no different. Watching characters interact and talk about whatever topics cross their mind can be compelling depending on the subject matter and the charm of the characters. Many found footage films use this as a time to develop the story in subtle ways. Instead of learning about the lore behind the location they are scouting, the audience is treated to three edgy young people talking about various types of metal bands and their importance or lack thereof. Some of this comes into play in terms of characterization and setting the tone for the insanity of the final act, but most of it is easy to tune out for those unfamiliar or uninterested in that topic.
By the time it reaches its final act, Invoking Yell sets up too many bait-and-switches to justify any further goodwill. There are plenty of clues laced within the journey that point in the direction of one specific ending that involves the involvement of all three women. When the film gets there, it feels appropriately foreshadowed before crumbling into something else that is far less developed albeit more interesting. The characters split up and typical found footage run-from-the-evil tropes kick into gear. What is most infuriating, is the final five minutes or so that see one of the characters return for seemingly no reason other than to justify a shock ending. Between the constant story shifts in the end and an unforgivably choice to blunt the protagonist’s survival instincts, it makes Invoking Yell a difficult film to get behind in the end.
Aesthetically speaking, Invoking Yell is a confusing and muddled experiment in 90s nostalgia. Although this reviewer came of age long after the 90s, the camera looks way to clean and modern to confuse with something that could have been shot in the late 90s. Aside from referencing some direct 90s callbacks, there is little to the film’s overall look that couldn’t also be confused for modern metal, goth, or other countercultures. Invoking Yell could still work as a modern film, but the 90s setting feels disjointed considering how unimportant it is to the narrative beyond giving the crew less ability to call for help.
The true saving grace of Invoking Yell is the terrific performances of its three leads. María Jesús Marcone holds the film down as the angsty leader of the band, commanding an appropriate amount of condescension and venom against posers and those who don’t understand her goals. She truly captivates the audience every time she is onscreen thanks to her unpredictable choices and general presence. Macarena Carrere is given a more light-hearted foil to Marcone. She plays Tania as devilishly playful and excited to be there but clearly at the mercy of whatever whims Andrea throws her way. Although behind the camera for most of the film, Andrea Ozuljevich’s presence as Ruth is never forgotten. She provides enough pushback to feel like a real person but remains an observer enough to keep audience members in her shoes. The trio of leads do a great job of selling an otherwise fine found footage horror.
Far from the worst found footage horror to exist, Invoking Yell is designed to whip up nostalgia for a very specific audience. Some cool ideas work against weaker ones resulting in an uneven story that falls flat in the end due to some eyebrow raising decisions. Strong performances and a general sense of dread make up for the otherwise lacking plot enough to say that if the premise sounds exciting to you, that Invoking Yell might be the next big discovery to put on your radar.
Overall Score? 5/10