|Index||3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Invitation is the new psychological thriller from Karyn Kusama (the superb Girlfight and the awful, messy sci-fi action thriller Aeon Flux, etc) and is a study in delusion, paranoia and suspicion. This is a slow burn horror story about a reunion of old friends that goes horribly wrong. Will (Logan Marshall-Green, recently seen in Madame Bovary, etc) has reluctantly accepted an invitation to attend a dinner party reunion with some old friends at the house he once owned with his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard). But since their divorce Eden now lives in the house with her new husband David (Michiel Huisman), whom she met on a retreat in Mexico while recovering from a nervous breakdown. Will is still grieving over the tragic death of his son, and is in a fragile emotional state. He begins to feel that something is not quite right about the gathering, but is he unnecessarily paranoid or does he have reason to be concerned? There are early portents that something is wrong, and a palpable air of uneasiness and distrust soon overtakes the gathering. When the hosts insist on playing a rather unsettling parlour game the awkwardness further enhances the growing sense of uneasiness. Writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (Crazy/Beautiful, the dire buddy cop comedy Ride Along, etc) have created a cast of oddball characters to add to the creepy atmosphere. Most of the cast is not that well known, which works in the film's favour. John Carroll Lynch has a vaguely sinister and menacing presence as the mysterious stranger Pruitt. The action is confined to a single location and Kusama makes the most of the claustrophobic setting, slowly ramping up the tension until the film bursts into full on mayhem and carnage. The impact of the final shot is devastatingly effective as the full horror of what is happening is revealed.
This is the kind of film that invites much thought during and afterward. The story leads you to constantly question what is really happening at any given moment, and whenever you are certain that you know exactly what is going to happen, something new appears to make you question that. There is a powerful and intense atmosphere of dread and stress throughout, all building to a terrifying conclusion, but I was taken unawares by how emotional the whole thing would be. This is a very poignant film. The characters seem real, and the performances are excellent, especially from the lead, Logan Marshall-Green. This film casts a very potent spell and I can say that days later I am still thinking about it. I can't think of anything quite like it. It certainly made me frightened to visit California.
This is a remake of a 2003 movie with the same name, same premise, just the person who the person who invited the movie was very much better person to play the role, in the 2003 version Lance Henriksen played the host of the dinner party. His portrayal with the rest of these actors taking over the other roles would have been perfect. It could have been made even better if it was a person or child of a person from the first movie who reprised the role of host. While the actors in this version are over all better, the director better, production value better, i can't help but miss that sense of seeing it for the first time, hoping there is some twist to offer the same old same old, even a glimmer of new light to look upon it as. If you are having trouble finding this movie to watch, watch Lance Hendriksen do a better job as host of this twisted dinner party in the 2003 version of the same name on netflix. Just warning for the 2003 version, its production value makes you feel like its a 90s made for TV movie.
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