THE INVADER *** USA 2019 Dir: Anthony Ashmore. 23 mins
New York production company “The Cinemaharvest Co.” add their contribution to the ongoing love-in for 80’s horror with this pleasant 1984-set homage, the first of three 35mm short films that collectively will make up the upcoming THE TRICK OR TREAT PICTURE SHOW.
Young widow Annabelle Bailer inherits a big old house in the country that once belonged to the parents of her recently deceased husband. Her plan is to stay in the place until it sells and move back to the city. It comes with an all too familiar warning – “lock the doors at night” and the audience is aware before she that it is host to the “invader” of the title – a disfigured, homicidal vagrant. Writer-director Anthony Ashmore’s short convincingly reproduces elements of the period’s genre films, offering the titillation of Bailer’s aerobics session, portentous subjective camerawork accompanied by heavy breathing and a finale riffing on the slasher cycle’s Final Girl trope. Commendably, the film avoids cheap shocks and gore in favour of capturing the lo-fi look and sound of a good low-budget chiller from the era. Bailer is sympathetic in the lead role, the synth score is hugely atmospheric and the filmmaker finds as much genuine menace in the lingering daylit scenes outside the house as he does in the more claustrophobic nocturnal horrors. All it truly lacks are a memorable antagonist and a satisfying punchline, but it bodes well for Ashmore’s future projects.
Review by Steven West