This is not going to be a very long review.
Not because of time restraints or that I just what to get it over with, in fact I would love to dwell on the many scenes that The Invitation wonderfully displays and mention the climax, the sudden twists, but for you to enjoy this film, then its best you know nothing about it! So that’s right! Don’t even bother with the trailer, don’t read up on any spoilers, just go into this movie with the least bit of knowledge and it all be worth it.
What I will tell you, is that films like this is why Hacked 2 Pieces was created. Its somewhat unheard between the masses out there but its destined to found and loved by many. It joins the likes of Session 9, in being a film that when finally found, your horror heart will forever be grateful for it. To say its a classic is a bit much, but to boldly state that it was perhaps one of the best films in 2016 is not an exaggeration.
Karyn Kusama who came to prominence thanks to her debut film Girlfight, but then came unstuck with Aeon Flux and the even dafter Jennifer’s Body, has really delivered a film here that rakes as much tension as possible from its tiny story. Yes. not much happens throughout the running time and newcomers may be bored at what they seeing on screen, but those who love slow burn horror films, will relish each scene and eventual outcome.
Story wise I can tell you the basics. Will (Logan Marshall Greene) and Kira (Emayatzu Corinealdi) have been invited to a dinner party. Why and for what reason, they are not sure, but the party is being hosted by Will’s ex wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman) along with a few friends that Will hasn’t seen for a few years. Why I hear you ask would Will want to attend a dinner party hosted by his ex wife? Well there is something that has happened in the past that still ties them two together and its told in flashbacks, an incident that still effects Will, but not so much his wife.
As this unfolds through the eyes of Will himself, we the viewer are by his side throughout and for many moments of this film, we are teased and suspicious of what we are actually seeing. Is it Will’s Paranoia? Or is something else amiss? Make no mistake, the feeling of dread and doom is set off right from when the film begins, with their journey to the house tainted by a death that adds even more meaning when the final credits roll.
Will suspects that the party is not what it seems, even more so when one of the guys plays a video with a final scene that had the majority of the gang in total shock. Yes I know I am being secretive about this film, but writing a review and trying not to give anything away is vital for you to enjoy the drama unfold, because like Will, you know something is not right, why are the doors locked? why are they watching this video with that kind of ending? Who are the strange newcomers like Pruitt (the always brilliant John Carroll Lynch) who is there in the background keeping watch.
Kusama brilliantly directs with such a deft touch, providing plenty of expectations for the viewers only for to then pull back the suspense once more. The power of the film is not knowing where we are heading and that is why it cranks with unbearable tension and nail biting moments. Don’t get me wrong, what we are seeing on screen is more or less a theatre play, with a group of people sitting down and talking for the majority of the running time. For many, this will be seen as a tiresome bore and most probably switch off and play a Final Destination film, but those who stick with it, will get their rewards.
The film mirrors the work of Ben Wheatley, where fans of the classic Kill List will find much to enjoy here, as like his work, the film is centred around a great story with well acted characters. As Will’s paranoia about where the night is ending comes to the fore, the film switches from a talkative thriller to downright horror and its here, the film sparkles and just adds even more quality as it delivers the build up it promises.
I love the fact horror is going down this route again. With gore porn becoming stale and tedious these days, its films like this that are being released to great acclaim. We don’t need to see arms and limbs being ripped off to be scared, what we have here is a normal situation, heighted by grief and loss, which any of us could find ourselves in and that is the reason it chills us when watching.
I can’t praise The Invitation enough, its a wonderful piece of film that simply needs to be watched. Kusama has truly delivered a horror that will have you thinking for days and you be discussing that quite surreal, shocking but brilliant final scene for years to come.
I know I have been purposely been vague in detail as to what actually this film is about, but you will thank me for it, go, seek it out and then spread the news because this dinner party is one Invitation you do not want to turn down!