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Invasion

Directed by Albert Pyun

Written by Cynthia Curman

Starring Virginia Dare, Morgan Weisser, Norbert Weisser, Don Opper

Produced by Robert Ladesich, Norbert Weisser

Rated R

65 minutes

***

You’ve got to be concerned about anything that purports to be “based on true / reported events.”

“Invasion” will prove to be one more example.

Based on something called “The Lawton Outbreak”, a report by someting called the N.S.A.A-C.D.C, “Invasion” details the events surrounding a meteor that strikes the earth’s surface just outside a small town in California. This meteor contains a large quantity of virulent disease, that starts a rapid spread throughout the small town. How will it be contained? What really happened? Who knows?

It’s a chilling prospect, at any rate—the thought that some rogue chunk of space rock could slam into the ground and give people some kind of space rabies is enough to keep plenty of people up at night. And this is, if you believe the opening scenes, plenty recent. The events are set in 2006, which is enough to make you curious if nothing else.

They may have a good idea, the only question that needs solving from here is how well was that idea executed? The answer is, surprisingly well. It’s an incredibly minimalist production—a lot of it is shot from a “patrol car’s” “Dash cam” and most of it was shot inside some kind of park—but it’s actually pretty spooky stuff. The suspense is ratcheted up to the maximum; due to the nature of the footage you are literally unable to see much more than several dozen feet in front of you except when you are given minor clues. You are absolutely, unquestionably, unable to see anything more than the director wants you to see. There’s only one camera, and it’s continually locked in place on the dash of this patrol car.

And that’s pretty scary when you stop and think about it.

How much of this is legit, parenthetically, I don’t know. There’s not much way to know, really, unless you got a copy of that report that’s purported to exist and went over it. I can’t even tell if there IS a Lawton County, let alone where it is. They didn’t make many mistakes—one of the characters was at her senior prom, and it’s set in May, so that’s pretty close.

The ending is sort of out of nowhere…a gross mislabelling on the box claims that the film is eighty-one minutes long, when the last fifteen minutes of that run time are devoted to a credit roll.

The special features include audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, as well as trailers for “Werewolf: The Devil’s Hound,” “Boy Eats Girl,” “Night of the Living Dead 3D,” “Skinwalkers”, and an advertisement for Fearnet.com.

All in all, a very solid effort from Lions Gate this time out. In fact, it sets a new benchmark for minimalist filmmaking, and that’s rarity enough by its own. They can’t have spent more than a couple thousand dollars on this entire production, and “Invasion” should definitely serve as an example of what can be done on very little.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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