Panic Fest 2023 Review: ‘Invoking Yell’ is an Ode to VHS Horror

Chilean filmmaker Patricio Valladares bursts into Panic Fest with ‘Invoking Yell’, a frightening flick set in Chile in the 1990s. Rebellious and passionate, Tania, Andrea, and Ruth set out into the woods to make a demo tape for their black metal band, Invoking Yell. Concurrently, they record supernatural events that begin to occur—with terrifying results.

Shot almost entirely on a video camera, ‘Invoking Yell’ feels like an extended feature from a ‘V/H/S’ movie, as if you found a tape in the basement of an abandoned house. The film’s ability to immerse its audience and the fearlessness in its violence create a truly harrowing tale that sticks with you.

Panic Fest Invoking Yell

Valladares took a weekend to shoot ‘Invoking Yell’, but you’d never know it—the film is effortless in its tension-building and its frightening imagery. The grittiness of both the story and its visuals makes it feel voyeuristic, à la ‘The Blair Witch Project’, especially in its third act, as the girls become increasingly more affected by the demonic forces around them.

Watching this movie feels cursed—as if you shouldn’t be watching what’s flickering across the screen. While this may seem like it’s been done before in the horror genre, there’s something unique about Valladares’ execution; something deeply unsettling as we follow these girls deeper into the woods. The sets and sound are fantastic here, from the thickening trees to the graffitied house and bus that they find. The realism is in the crunching of the leaves, the darkening woods (which I can’t imagine was easy to shoot in), and the symphony of crickets that whisper through the trees as the girls’ situation worsens. I loved the concept that these girls will do anything—and I mean anything—for their demo.

Valladares excels here, taking a DIY filmmaking venture and turning it on its head. He’s created a haunting, truly disturbing ode to the days of VHS—when horror was so tangible, you wondered if it was real.

Panic Fest 2023 Review: ‘Invoking Yell’ is an Ode to VHS Horror