Didn’t see 2013’s The Invoking? That’s okay — it’s not a prerequisite for watching The Invoking 2: Paranormal Events. Hell, to be honest, you could forego any 10-minute chunk of this sequel and still track right along with it. That’s because this 2015 follow-up is a sequel in name only and is an anthology, which the original was not.
As with producer Jesse Baget’s Monsterland, Zombieworld and All Hallows’ Eve 2, this movie is a faux anthology, in that it collects pre-existing short films, presents them as a whole and calls it a day. Yet The Invoking 2 feels sloppier and less satisfying, because this time around, Baget and company don’t even bother to include a wraparound device. At least they deliver the subtitle-promised Paranormal Events: eight of them, to be exact.
From Smoked helmer Jamie DeWolf, the opening U-Turn follows an inebriated redneck — he’s just a good ol’ boy, never meanin’ no harm — who picks up a pretty little filly standing along Highway 116 at night. She’s wet (not that way), mute and just points … toward his fate! In Insane, from Zombieworld contributor Adam O’Brien, a location-scouting filmmaker gets a nighty-night tour of a sanitarium that’s been abandoned for 32 years … or has it? Next, Jay Holben, an All Hallows’ Eve 2 alum, depicts a spooky evening of a woman home Alone … or is she?
You get the drill and you know how things go. You certainly do in the longest short, Natal, in which Corey Norman (Monsterland) shows what happens when hot, young things go camping for the weekend: never anything good. Amid all the predictability, only two segments stand out, and one of them, Jamie Root’s Melissa, is as unimaginative as them all, but legitimately creepy and over and done with in the time it takes to jump-scare.
That leaves Do Not Disturb as the best of the bunch. From Nailbiter director Patrick Rea, it holes up in a Kansas hotel room with an on-the-loose serial killer who gets the strangest dish from room service: a woman’s head, through the mouth of which pop out cards imprinted with answers of the questions he poses. Hey, whatever works! —Rod Lott