CFF 2023: INVOKING YELL is a Found Footage Banger with a Black Metal Hook

Just when you think it’s all been done in the found footage genre, you happen upon a film like Patricio Valladares’ atmospheric stunner Invoking Yell and realize, yup, there’s still some interesting stories to tell. The late 90’s period document document follows Invoking Yell, an all female Chilean “depressive suicidal black metal” duo compromised of Andrea (María Jesús Marcone) and Tania (Macarena Carrere), who are heading out to the woods with fan and camera woman Ruth (Andrea Ozuljevich), to shoot a music video for their newly finished self titled demo. 

The woods in question were instrumental in the band’s demo, since the women who dabble in the black arts also incorporate electronic voice phenomena (EVP) in their music. The setting was rumored to be the site of the deaths of 8 children in a tragic bus accident, and Andrea claims to have captured their anguished cries on tape. Having seen my fill of found footage over the years, the film does something interesting in how it uses its time, hook and technology to tell a story that slowly pulls you in and feels somewhat refreshing in its approach to the genre. The actors here drip authenticity, vamping for the camera, flashing devil horns and falling down narcissistic rabbit holes about their music and inspirations. This builds a solid narrative foundation, that Valladares then uses to begin to craft a story around the characters as the day turns into night. 

While the premise here is very effectively executed with its dreary analogue visage, coupled with an equally unsettling soundscape. I have to say, a big component of this film’s effectiveness is thanks to the trio of women who make these characters feel a little too real at times. The dynamic here of the trio’s ebb and flow throughout the 24 hours really helped to highlight the relationships and intent of these characters in the final act. It’s an ingenious way of character development that really didn’t hit me until I started to think about it, because it’s so subtle but definitely there. The way the camera is used as Ruth’s point of view and leers, and the way the other side reacts says volumes about how the women feel about each other and how that’s setup throughout the night. 

While the setup here is more than intriguing – a death metal band that uses audio from ghosts in their songs, that go into the woods to shoot a video. I mean what could go wrong? What I found kept me in was not only the film’s characters, but just how real this felt at times, but I guess that’s the point. The film adheres to the “rules” of the genre if you will, good enough to tell this story and it’s one to be honest I wasn’t expecting, which isn’t always the case. Invoking Yell is found footage banger, that is as metal as its premise, without falling for cliches or stereotypes. It’s a film that succeeds purely on character and story and one of my highlights of The Chattanooga Film Festival. 

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