Horror. Worldview. Faith.

The Invitation – Review

The Invitation – Review

Jul 26, 2016

reviewed by Scott
directed by Karyn Kusama, 2015

You are invited to witness this angsty psychological thriller that’ll rip your heart out.  The Invitation is directed by Karyn Kusama who also helmed Girlfight and the horror comedy, Jennifer’s Body.  Brilliantly written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, The Invitation premiered at the 2015 SXSW film festival.

Most of us have been to parties where we felt out-of-place.  And some of us have been in social settings where things are going fine until the train stops unexpectedly at crazy town.  If you can relate and even if you can’t, The Invitation will put you there.

Will, the lead character, is played by Logan Marshall-Green.  It’s an emotionally complex role that he pulls off expertly.  He is summoned with his new girlfriend, Kira, to the home of his ex-wife, Eden, who is hosting a dinner party with her new husband.  Right off the bat, Will and Kira experience a disturbing mishap on the way which is the first indication that this picture is about some seriously damaged people.  Once there, they are met by a group of Will and Eden’s old friends whom they haven’t seen in ages, along with some mysterious new faces.  The film unsettles us with clues and misdirections, which it neutralizes with intermittent normalness.  Every dire signal has a sensible explanation.  When you hear hoofbeats, don’t immediately think of zebras.  Think of horses.  Yeah, but…

Will is in no mood for a party at the house he used to share with his ex and their son.  Will and Eden, we learn, divorced in the aftermath of their young son’s tragic death and both of them have had trouble moving on.  Eden claims to have found a way to be free from all negative emotions, but Will is skeptical . . . about everything.  Why is Eden acting so spacey?  Where is their missing friend?  Why is the door locked?  Who are these new people?  As Will’s paranoia grows to epic proportions, certain things fail to add up for the viewer too.  Someone at this party is clearly bonkers; it’s just not clear who.

The dinner-party-from-hell micro-subgenre is only as good as the supporting cast.  In this case, The Invitation is pure perfection.  Everyone seems so normal except for the little things.  Like a slightly tilted painting over the fireplace, there is just something off.  Like Hitchcock’s Rope, this creepy delight would work well as a stage play too.  Avoid the trailer.  The less you know, the better.

Some critics of the film will say that it just moves too slowly, but the pace is perfect in my estimation.  It is a slow burn but with just enough suppressed violence and emotion to keep you on edge.  Be assured there is plenty of pay off before it’s done.  Fans of unexpected chills and bizarreness will be rewarded.  If you need wall-to-wall action, you’ll probably find your mind wandering until, well, just until.  But if you like your chillers marinated slowly and packing a hidden punch to the gut, this is one film not to miss.

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