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Invasion (2005) Review

$10K - $99K 2000s Alien Alien Invasion Aliens/UFO All Releases Car Mounted Camera Daytime Document Event Horror Outbreak Sci-Fi Surveillance Camera Surveillance Footage
6.7

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4.8

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Invasion (2005) - Found Footage Films Movie Poster (Found Footage Horror)Invasion is a 2005 found-footage film directed by Albert Pyun, that is perhaps more properly described as “found surveillance,” about a police inspector (Scott Paulin) who investigates a meteor that lands one night in the woods.

The police inspector, Lando, drives into the park to investigate and is attacked by the farmer who initially called it in, having apparently been infected with a contagion that’s passed through a parasite that crawled into his ear.

Now infected himself, Lando drives off and happens upon a young couple situated in the park. He attacks and infects the young man. The girl he’s with, Cheryl (Virginia Dare, and also known as Jenny Dare Paulin) is the real life daughter of actor Scott Paulin.

Cheryl, who is still in her prom dress, steals the police car and navigates down the dark empty roads, finding it increasingly difficult to leave the park and remain safe. As the film progresses, the officer talking to Cheryl on the police radio tells her that the “invasion” has reached the town. Will the local townsfolk find a way to contain this imminent threat to humanity?

Invasion (2005) - Found Footage Film Movie Fanart (Found Footage Horror)

Reason for Filming

Besides several short news segments at the beginning and end of Invasion, the film is told almost entirely from the POV of a dashboard-mounted video camera in the police car. As such, the video camera perspective is exclusively of the road and the forest at night, and the voice of the driver speaking in the police car. The video effectively captures whomever (and whatever) passes in front of the police car. The various drivers throughout the film also have screen-time when they exit the car and walk within the video camera field of view. Pyun stays true to this approach for the entire film.

An on-screen message displayed at the beginning of the film explains that the police car dash-mounted cameras have been in use by police for a while, making the dashboard camera an accepted norm for this film.

Invasion (2005) - Found Footage Film Movie Fanart (Found Footage Horror)

Realism/Immersion

To its credit, Invasion is a tour-de-force, shot almost entirely from the perspective of the police mounted dash video camera. The vast majority of the plot is revealed by voices talking over the police radio. An unseen officer on the other end of the radio speaks with Cheryl and reports developments in town that ultimately exposes something much larger at work in their community.. Eventually, we learn the military has been called in.

Unfortunately, as Cheryl drives one way, she encounters a roadblock and her infected boyfriend, upon turning around and driving the opposite direction, she encounters an infected farmer blocking her path. This film contains a good deal of back-and-forth driving through the park.

Invasion (2005) - Found Footage Film Movie Fanart (Found Footage Horror)

There are many long stretches of driving showing nothing but the road lit by headlights, with the driver’s voice heard speaking off-screen. This cinematic approach is entirely believable and immersive, but can be a test for viewer patience. The limitations of this unique approach quickly become painfully obvious, but somehow it works.

The film accomplishes a great deal on very limited resources. There are no set pieces to speak of – only people in front of the police car shambling forward on occasion. One two occasions Cheryl leaves the car, where she can be seen speaking on a walkie-talkie, offering some visual variety. The effects used to create lights flashing in the sky and glowing or melting faces comes across as dated, almost as if these elements were added as an afterthought to the film.

There are many long stretches of driving showing nothing but the road lit by headlights, with the driver’s voice heard speaking off-screen.

Somehow, this potentially mind-numbing monotony seems to work for most of the running time. The film itself is only 65 minutes of the 81 minute run time, a plus since it starts to wear out its welcome by then. The remaining 16 minutes is taken up by very slow and monotonous ending credits, in which the same 4 or 5 names appear over and over in different production capacities.

Found Footage Purity

The concept of a single camera angle is played with stubborn authenticity right to the end. There are instances of “creepy” incidental music which make the driving scenes more ominous but undermine the found footage purity.

Late in the film Cheryl seems to be seeing ghosts that aren’t there – perhaps indications of her impending doom (and she says so out loud). The dash mounted video camera would not be able to capture such visions. Additionally, there is an apparent nuclear or otherwise significant military action suggested upon the park at the end, which raises the question as to how the footage survived – to be fair, Cloverfield also ends with a nuclear blast and that footage survived.

Invasion (2005) - Found Footage Film Movie Fanart (Found Footage Horror)

Acting

The acting is acceptable for what’s asked of the cast. Most of the actors have very little screen time, as more often than not, the main cast is behind the wheel and off-screen for most of the film. Scott Paulin as Inspector Lando at the beginning of Invasion is the only well-known actor and Virginia (Jenny Paulin) Dare as Cheryl is fine. The others basically appear only sporadically, as shambling zombies coming towards the car.

Plot

The story is nothing that hasn’t already played out before, but the audacity of the found footage single-camera, six years after The Blair Witch Project (1999) but before the technique really took off with [Rec] (2007) and Cloverfield (2008) illustrating how well it could be done, is admirable.

Albert Pyun is known for low-budget (and generally bad) action films from the 1980s and 1990s, his most known films include 1989’s Cyborg with Jean-Claude Van Damme and 1991’s Dollman with Tim Thomerson. Also known as Infection and several other alternate titles, this film does not appear on Pyun’s Wiki page.

Good

  • Simple found footage concept is well executed
  • Does a lot with very little
  • Effective, almost hypnotic feel after a while

Bad

  • May get visually boring after a while
  • Limitations of the idea increasingly obvious
  • Incidental music undermines found footage purity

Summary

Invasion employs a simple found-footage concept, and is stubborn in remaining immersive. The film is competently done and actually quite effective, but may come across as visually boring for some viewers.
6.7

Site Rating

Realism/Immersion - 8
Reason for Filming - 8
Found Footage Purity - 5
Believable Cinematography - 7
Believable Acting - 6
Plot - 6

Roger Leatherwood worked on the lower rungs of Hollywood for 20 years as before returning to the real world. His feature “USHER” won numerous awards on the independent film festival circuit, and his writing has appeared in Bright Lights Film Journal, EatDrinkFilms, Nefarious Ballerina, European Trash Cinema and others. He blogs about film and cultural memory at mondo-cine.blogspot.com.

  • Steve Owen

    The movie is terrible. No way is this better than the original. It’s not
    even as good as recent found footage films like Grave Encounters. The
    characters are unlikable, stupid, and the filming style incoherent. You
    can’t even tell what’s going on once the “action” begins, so very little tension
    is created. The use of the drone is pointless as all it really does is
    serve as an absurd reason for someone to climb a tree. There’s a reason
    this film is rated lower than 30% on RT. Do you folks receive discount tickets for good reviews?

    • I agree with your assessment that the first Blair Witch film is better than the sequel. We rated the first film a perfect 10/10 (one of two films on our site to hold that distinction).

      We believe much of the bad press and less-than-stellar reviews are based on viewer expectation. Many viewers were expecting to see a film that looked and felt like the original Blair Witch Project in tone and cadence, in this regard the sequel does not deliver. The director/writer team (Wingard/Barrett) are just coming off V/H/S, which is more akin to how this film plays out. This is the stylistic direction the filmmakers opted for and we can’t fault them for their creative direction.

      However, if the sequel is reviewed in a bubble (without comparing/contrasting against the original film), then film is actually better than many other found footage films. We took this approach to review the film, objectively and without allowing the emotions, memories, and deadpan realistic cinematography of the first film to impact our judgement.

      Grave Encounters is a great film and although we haven’t formally reviewed it yet, the film will have a very good score based on my prior viewings. We hope review it soon.

  • Steve Owen

    The movie is terrible. No way is this better than the original. It’s not even as good as recent found footage films like Grave Encounters. The characters are unlikable, stupid, and the filming style incoherent. You can’t even tell what’s going on most of the time, so very little tension is created. The use of the drone is pointless as all it really does is serve as an absurd reason for someone to climb a tree. There’s a reason this film is rated lower than 30$ on Rotten Tomatoes. This site must receive free screenings for good reviews.

  • Post your comments by 930PM EDT 9/18/2016 and we’ll read them on our podcast review of Blair Witch (2016)!

  • Derren Étienne

    So, i have mixed feelings on this movie. on the one hand, it’s great to see the mythology extended, even though it seems to touch on elements that i didn’t notice in the first instalment (because lets face it, the second one doesn’t count). I liked the fact that they embraced new technology, kinda like they did in ‘Area 51’, and actually very much liked all the digital glitches they added to emphasise the time span between the two movies, HOWEVER, i have a big issue with the sound of this movie!!
    Honestly, the music and the sound design was fine, but it belonged to another movie, not Blair Witch. The original was pure diegetic and everything sounded as if it came from the raw footage, but this was so obviously added in post. it seemed more in keeping with VHS than with Blair Witch. To me, once anything is added to a found footage film that would not have been present if you had literally picked up the camera from the floor (or in a lightning struck tree) the realism is lost.

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