Monday 5 October 2020

Incoming! Heads up for new Brit horror feature The Invoked directed by David Cave

At DEoL we're always keen to promote exciting new projects. Newcastle-on-Tyne based David Cave, who describes himself on his website as a writer, filmmaker and poet, is putting together his first feature The Invoked, following on from a series of well received short films, including the recent Girl and a Scar, which picked up a slew of awards when it did the rounds of festivals.

I asked David about The Invoked, and this is what he had to say:

DEoL: I think I'm right that this is your first feature. What influenced your decision to make your next film a full length one?

DC: Yes, you’re correct, this will be my first feature film project. In terms of what influenced me to make the move from shorts to features, well, I think it’s the next obvious step for me as a filmmaker. I’ve been making shorts for twenty years or so, my first short (as writer/director) being 1999’s Redemption, an experimental drama made in my final year of university and my last short, Girl and a Scar, shot in 2013 but not released until 2017. So with these films book-ending another nine shorts in between I think it’s fair to say that turning towards developing a feature was the necessary evolutionary path to tread on a personal level.

Yet, The Invoked was not the first long form project that I contemplated as my debut feature. Initially Girl and a Scar was written as a feature screenplay and developed (initially by myself and local writer Max Gillespie) by Thomas Craig (producer on The Invoked). The feature version of Girl and a Scar was somewhat problematic as a first feature because it was a full blown experimental/fantasy film, which would have required a large budget to produce, budgeted approximately at £10m, and certainly not attractive to potential investors as the debut film of a director with no track record in features. So, Tom and I spoke about other ideas I had and The Invoked appeared to fit the bill nicely as a micro-budget feature with few locations and only a handful of central characters.

DEoL: What's the inspiration for The Invoked?

DC: Akin to many other film fanatics I’ve always been a lover of 1960's/70's British horror movies produced by the likes of Tigon, Amicus and Hammer, to name but a few of the companies who thrived commercially in the output of horror genre filmmaking in the UK during that period. What a wonderful time it must have been to be involved in the industry back then too! Growing up during this boom of weird and wonderful visual artistry obviously affected me hugely so it was inevitable that when I decided to study and move into making movies myself, my inspirations as a filmmaker would be born from memories and nightmares of experiencing these low budget gems all those years ago. I particularly remember being affected in equal measures by Norman J. Warren’s 1976 movie Satan’s Slave and Piers Haggard’s Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971). These two films stuck in my mind for years after watching them for the first time and even after revisiting them in the 80’s I found that they had lost none of their cinematic appeal in terms of mood and dark storytelling despite being made on modest budgets for the time.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, when I was developing the first draft of The Invoked, my central concern was to firstly show my appreciation to the movies that I grew up with and inspired me to move into the arts industry in the first place and secondly, not only reference my love for this period in low budget British horror production, but update it by implementing contemporary characters with contemporary issues brought about by the possible dangers of the naïve use of current day technologies. Essentially within The Invoked my aim is to attempt to create a mood motivated (specifically) by those movies mentioned above but set within today’s technology addicted youth society. Of course much of this is dependent on what budget we can raise to shoot the feature. The idea of shooting the short teaser (included at the bottom of this post. Ed) was both to allow ourselves to experiment with some of the visual elements of the screenplay and also to give prospective investors a little feel of the dark mood of what the feature will encompass, given a healthy budget allowing us to do this, and of course show the commercial viability within the current independent horror market. 

David Cave (right) with one of his inspirations,
the great Norman J. Warren
DEoL: On your website you've described yourself as "an independent artist, tackling sensitive subject matters in a reflective and creative way." To what extent will that be fulfilled in The Invoked, or does this represent a new departure for you?

DC: Not at all, much of my past work has its origins deeply embedded within the human condition, specifically narratives brought about by or leading on from the (often misguided) internal workings of both the unconscious and conscious mind. The Invoked is no different in that sense because it explores the actions of a small group of characters who (because of possessing damaged or addictive personalities) either have been left to cope with abhorrent scenarios through no central fault of their own, have touched elements of madness due to the disintegration of their personal mental wellbeing or lost control of moments within their lives that would go on to shape their futures in a negative way. I always try to base my stories on or around the examination of humanity gone wrong in some small sense. Often, in my case as an artist, this tends to lend itself to a more experimental form of expression (as in much of my short film work) but with The Invoked I’ve tried my hardest to rein this in somewhat. Having said that, there’s still many relevant modern issues and moral ambiguities explored within the story but I would like to think that in developing the idea, we’ve given both sides of the argument a creatively just and fair representation.

DEoL: Although the phrase 'folk horror' is rather overused these days, is that term in any way applicable to The Invoked?

DC: Yes, without a doubt. The Invoked has many narrative and stylistic nuances applicable to that of folk horror, all of which were deliberate choices. The second and third acts of the story take place, almost exclusively, in, around or beneath the home of one of our central protagonists and can be recognised, in itself, as a major character within story development of the mise-en-scene. This building has been the site of the second coming of a cult group who call themselves The Children of Resurgence, their mark being the symbol you see within the teaser. This group, as is so often the case in real life examples, indoctrinate their followers with ideals and goals filled to the brim with good intentions, frequently associated to the renewal of life and the wellbeing of mother earth, but as the narrative unfolds and narcissistic power exerts itself, actions and experiences become somewhat unhealthy rejections of family, normality and morality, eventually resulting in inevitable death and decay but with a few unexpected surprises thrown in at the end! 

Teaser still for The Invoked

DEoL: Can you tell us where you've got to in terms of planning, casting, script etc?

DC: So, at the minute we’re in the process of raising investment interest in the project. We have already attached Lynn Lowry (of Score, I Drink Your Blood, The Crazies and Shivers fame) to the project. Lynn has been cast in the role of Olivia, the mother of the young protagonist’s love interest, Livvy, the character that essentially gets the dark narrative ball rolling. Some of the other supporting roles have also been cast on a preliminary basis, again dependent on budget. We have various budgets in mind given that (ideally) we are aiming to shoot the feature next year. It goes without saying that the ideal scenario is to raise the preferred budget, enabling us to afford to do everything I want to do within the current draft of the screenplay. If that’s not possible we have a minimum budget in mind which we believe we are able to complete the film to a high standard with, albeit with some changes in the ending which is where a large chunk of the budget would go in terms of production design, practical FX and post production costs.

We are also looking into the possibility of having a co-producer on board in order to both fine tune the current draft of the script and help us raise the finance we need to produce the film. As most filmmakers will tell you, you have to be prepared to be flexible with independent projects. Sometimes, just in order to get the idea off the ground you have to learn to compromise in certain departments and that’s fine. As a first feature I do believe that The Invoked has a lot of promise and I’m a great believer in collaboration. With the right people on board and with an achievable shooting schedule I feel that it is the right time for this project to happen. We’ve been lucky to have worked some amazing talent and crew on the teaser so we just have to hope that our luck holds out in order to reach both our financial and artistic goals for the feature also.

DEoL: And when do you think we can see the finished thing?

(Answered by producer Thomas Craig)

If things stay on track we would hope that The Invoked would be ready for release in 2022.

DEoL: Anything else you feel would be useful to tell us about the project?

DC: Cast and crew enquiries to contact through our official Facebook page at;

Potential investors should contact producer Thomas Craig at;

DEoL: Thanks very much David (and Thomas) and good luck with the film!

The prepared investor teaser trailer for the film is here.

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