UFF 6 Review: ‘Invoking Yell’ Asks Viewers How “Trve Kvlt” Black Metal They Are
Patricio Valladares’ Invoking Yell, which screened as part of the sixth annual Unnamed Footage Festival’s lineup, takes us back to the 1990s and the then burgeoning black metal scene. Across Europe, the black metal scene had church burnings, murders, and suicides. Valladares brings his own spin on scene drama to Chile and the self-described “depressive suicidal black metal band”, Invoking Yell. The analog style of found footage used here perfectly captures the feel of classic black metal videos with bands running around the Scandinavian forests. The story follows Andrea (Maria Jesús Marcone) and Tania (Macarena Carrere), who combine to form the titular band. Joined by camerawoman Ruth (Andrea Ozuljevich), who documents their recording process, the group travels to the site of a horrific accident that claimed the lives of a busload of kids in an attempt to capture psychophony sounds of the children’s spirits for their new demo.
While Andrea is focused solely on accomplishing what they came to do and cementing the bands legacy in the scene, Tania and Ruth are content to enjoy their trek into the woods. Their differences come to a head during an occult ritual and set the band down a path that could end in a truly brutal, black metal fashion. While recording the band, Ruth attempts to get the duo to talk about what motivates them. They discuss what is black metal and depressive suicidal black metal especially, what bands are or aren’t black metal, and why posers are the absolute worst. Some of the dialogue may seem cringe but this is how you often navigate the metal scene when you’re young. It’s also through these discussions that the audience is treated to a feminist perspective on black metal. We see Tania wearing her uterus pentagram jacket and the two talk about how there are no black metal bands with women in them besides their band and how the men in the scene just want to use them for their bodies.
It paints a clear picture of the sexism and misogyny of the black metal scene in the nineties, so there is an implication that Andrea and Tania believe they have to be more extreme than the rest of the scene to be taken seriously. To its credit, the film stays true to the carefully crafted brooding nature of black metal heads worldwide. Andrea never breaks character and maintains a cold, pessimistic outlook in every conversation. At least one particularly favored scene would make even Euronymous (founding member of Norwegian black metal band Mayhem) jealous. Euronymous famously discovered the body of bandmate Per Yngve Ohlin (better known by his stage name Dead) after Ohlin’s tragic suicide by shotgun and later proceeded to gift jewelry made from pieces of Ohlin’s skull to those he deemed worthy. In this author’s humble opinion, Andrea and Tania would have made the cut.
Overall, Invoking Yell hits all the right notes for me. The foggy, Chilean forests and mountains are a perfect location to add atmosphere to the paranormal side of the story. Throughout the film there’s clever and funny dialogue, my favorite of which takes a shot at the logos of black metal bands, with humor that’s used sparingly as to not detract from the horror at hand. The climax is tense and the story keeps you guessing whether they have truly communicated with the spirits or not. Like black metal, not everyone will enjoy the story told here. When it finds its audience, though, they will see this as a top-tier found footage film. I will be continually recommending it throughout the year and championing it like a blaze in the northern sky. Keep your fists up for release information, and check out the trailer below in the meantime.