Have you ever had a movie you enjoyed so much that you wanted to tell everyone about it – except you didn’t want to reveal ANYTHING that happens? This the problem I’m faced with when reviewing and recommending The Invitation…one of the most tense, surprising, tightly written thrillers I’ve seen in a long time.
All I’ll reveal about the story is this: Will (Logan Marshall-Green) arrives at a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife and her new husband, and a group of old (and new) friends, and starts to grow suspicious that there’s a much darker, more sinister reason for this dinner party.
Revealing anything more about the plot would spoil the fun; it’s best to go in completely cold and enjoy the suspense of figuring out what’s really bubbling beneath the surface. The movie is a slow burner, relying more on awkward character interplay which at times is brilliantly excruciating and real. We’ve all been there…you meet up with a group of old friends that you’ve known for years, yet something’s changed, you’re all different now, things feel awkward, uneasy and you’re not entirely sure why? This movie has that feeling in spades. It felt like every character was hiding something and somehow that is far scarier than any bloodthirsty monster.
In some ways it’s easy to liken this film to Joel Edgerton’s brilliant thriller The Gift from last year, although to me, the film’s painful claustrophobic discomfort and dread felt more akin to Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, or specifically, the dinner party scene at the beginning of Kill List. Director Karyn Kusama masterfully limits how much information her audience gets in an almost Hitchcockian way, manipulating and controlling our perspectives and alignments with various characters at different points in the movie, whilst keeping us trapped in the confines of this hellish Hollywood home. All the characters are played masterfully, with a particularly outstanding performance from Logan Marshall-Green, who somehow manages to pull off playing such a cold, damaged, pensive character with enough warmth and depth that it’s impossible not to get behind him 100%.
I feel as though I’ve already said too much, so I’ll finish with this: The Invitation is a MUST-SEE. It’s rare that movies are so engrossing, so unpredictable and so perfectly paced, relying on intelligent character interplays for tension rather than cheap jump scares. This movie has a little something for everyone, and hardcore horror fans certainly won’t be disappointed by the final act.