The Invitation (2015)
written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
directed by Karyn Kusama
In the indie suspense drama The Invitation, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) are invited to a dinner party at the home of Will’s ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard). Also in attendance are several mutual friends, in what appears to be a reunion to reminisce about old times. No one has seen Eden in a couple of years, and the tension is palpable from the start: Will and Eden’s past relationship ended in tragedy – we eventually learn they divorced after the accidental death of their son – and no one really knows how this evening will turn out.
It’s indeed unusual, to say the least. Eden has married again to David (Michiel Huisman), a guy she met at a grief support group in Mexico. They share the house with Sadie (Lindsay Burge), a New-Agey girl who walks around naked and says shit like “I want to tell you all that I love you.” At one point another strange guest arrives (John Carroll Lynch), eyeing the others silently. To anxious Will they all seem off somehow, but like one character astutely remarks halfway through, “They’re a little bit weird, but this is L.A.”
The first hour of The Invitation plays with your expectations regarding social gatherings (always awkward in my book), while at the same time using Will as an unreliable narrator whose grief may be playing tricks on his mind. But then the film shows its cards, turning into a more conventional horror outing as Will’s suspicions become true. Still, props to director Karyn Kusama for keeping things slow and tightly wound, complete with a final revelation that actually feels earned. This is an invitation well worth accepting.
Carlos I. Cuevas