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Stream to Scream: “INVASION” (2005)

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As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: Albert Pyun’s gimmick-fueled extraterrestrial flick INVASION (2005).

If you’re a genre or cult film aficionado, you may be familiar with director Albert Pyun, the modern master of schlock action and horror flicks, most of which contain a fervent energy and imagination that many intentionally poor filmmakers do not. And while Pyun rarely makes a film that is of genuinely great caliber, Pyun knows how to create an entertaining movie, usually due to financially resourceful gimmicks or shooting techniques. And 2005’s INVASION, for better or for worse, falls into the former category by taking the concept for a ’50s alien invasion film and instilling a very singular, and very risky, visual approach.

In order to be up front and center about INVASION, I’ll go right ahead and say that if you’re not a fan of found footage, you’ll want to skip this film. And even if you are a fan of found footage, there’s a certain amount of patience needed for the audience of this film, which entirely comes from the perspective of a police dashboard camera. So while there’s a certain technical bravado in having a film that appears to be entirely one take, there’s also an extremely heavy reliance on sound design, exposition and suspense that might drive away many casual horror viewers.

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However, if INVASION is your type of film, then you might be able to enjoy the bizarre approach as best as possible, and you could have a little fun along the way as well. Of course, you’re going to have to tough long, repetitive stretches of country road to get to the good stuff, and even sometimes that’s more left to your ears than your eyes. But that’s not to say it’s executed poorly; for the concept, INVASION essentially plays like a haunted attraction on wheels, and the way Pyun wedges many of the tropes of the genre into said concept is almost like a game unto itself.

While the film isn’t necessarily intense, gory or scary, INVASION is clearly not trying to pull a fast one on the audience either; Pyun knows it’s a low budget and campy genre flick, and does an admirable job of following through with it’s central gimmick. Furthermore, the mostly vocal performances are rather solid for a film of its sort, with Jenny Paulin actually becoming an empathetic figure in the film, especially opposite Don Keith Opper’s believably skeptical Deputy Ben. And the gimmick also accentuates the real-life creepiness of driving at night on an empty road; while the film doesn’t try to emphasize a warning, the environmental darkness surrounding the car does make for an authentic horror setting to which almost everyone can relate.

Overall, if you’re 100% committed to INVASION’s dash-cam angle, you might be able to enjoy INVASION for the contemporary B-movie oddity that it most certainly is. While not necessarily a visionary director, Pyun is much more technically talented than given credit for, and mines much more out of INVASION than a less cinematically savvy filmmaker could under the same circumstances. So if you’re an open-minded horror fan looking for a new horror film experience, INVASION might do the trick; found-footage and camp haters need not apply.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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