Director: Karyn Kusama
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
After no contact for the past two years, a man named Will (Logan Marshall-Green) has received an invitation for him and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) to attend a dinner party being thrown by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman). All of their old friends will be there, but an incident in his past makes him uneasy about returning to his old home. Once he arrives, it becomes clear to him that something isn't quite right about this party, or his ex, or her husband, or their new friends...or maybe he's just crazy.
"The Invitation" is a dramatic thriller/psychological horror film directed by Karyn Kusama. The film revolves around a dinner party where new and old friends are supposed to come together for a nice meal, some good conversation, and a lot of catching up. Will, played by Logan Marshall-Green, and his girlfriend Kira, played Emayatzy Corinealdi, receive an invitation to this dinner party being thrown by his Will's ex-wife Eden, played by Tammy Blanchard, and her husband David, played by Michiel Huisman. Will has not seen or really heard from them in the past two years, which is pretty much the case for all of the attendees of this dinner. While having cocktails in the living room, Eden and David show a video advertising a retreat they visited while they were in Mexico. The contents of this video sets a very uneasy and awkward tone for their guests, as do their two mysterious friends Sadie and Pruitt, played by Lindsay Burdge and John Caroll Lynch. To many of the friends, this video seems like a recruiting tape for a cult of some sort. Eden and David swear this is not the case and assure their guests that their guru Dr. Joseph, played by Toby Huss, is far more like Tony Robinson than Jim Jones. As the night begins to unfold after they play this video, things begin to get stranger and stranger as all is clearly not what it seems.
With a lot of cinephile hype behind "The Invitation," we took a chance on this one and feel sort of differently about it. BigJ and I both agree this is a slow burning thriller that tries to methodically build tension as it leads to a single climactic event, but I enjoy it a little more than he does. The psychological aspect runs throughout the film because Will is very paranoid about what is going on at his ex-wife's house. He senses everything is not on the up and up and has heightened, sometimes outward skepticism about this mysterious and sudden dinner party. Many might ask, why go to an ex's house for dinner at all? Why not stay as far away from that situation as possible? Will and Eden suffered a tragedy prior to their divorce, and most of their issues remained unresolved before this gathering. They are both very touchy and still hurt about it, so most attending the party write off Will's antics as unfounded and exaggerated due to his unreliable mental and emotional state, especially being back at the house where said tragedy occurred for the first time. Kusama does a good job at manipulating the audience into questioning if Will is just being crazy or if his accusations are founded and is there something more sinister going on. The biggest problem with this film is its pacing. Like we mentioned, it is a slow burner, but it is also just slow and feels a little long. By the time everything is unraveled, BigJ felt underwhelmed, and at first, I did, too, but in the weeks after watching "The Invitation," I have found myself thinking about just how effective this film really is. Either way, we think you're going to have a good time watching this movie as it is full of tension and a different sort of story.
My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were being scared by: "Jack Frost"
Two years ago, we were being scared by: "House of 1000 Corpses"
Three years ago, we were being scared by: "Bloody Birthday"