The Invitation was directed by Karyn Kusama who has distinguished herself as one of the few female director’s in Hollywood that actually gets to direct feature length films. She has no shortage of work that appears on TV and on the big screen. The Invitation will hopefully get her even more work. This is a diabolically ingenious film that does take its time to progress but the last act will leave you stunned. At least, it did for me.
The Invitation stars Logan Marshall Green as Will, a grieving father who has lost his son to an accident in the backyard of his previous home. The death of his son ended his marriage to Eden who now has remarried and moved back into the same house where their son had died two years earlier. Will has moved on a bit, has a new home and a new lady in his life named Kira. They receive a strange invitation to a dinner party at Eden and her husband’s home along with a bunch of friends. All of whom have not seen each other in a long time. Upon arriving, it is not long before Will starts to suspect something is amiss. Or is it? Is Will the one having a breakdown? The group is made up of career minded yuppies who sip on very expensive wine and talk about life, philosophy and the newest “cult” Eden and her husband have picked up while in Central America. After watching a creepy video the whole group starts to bear their souls and let their inhibitions go. I guess it was the wine talking.
I won’t reveal any more of the plot, suffice to say you will not see the end coming. It took me by surprise and if you are patient, it will take you by surprise, too. Kusama knows just how to amp up the tension and keep the story progressing without becoming bogged down with too much exposition. Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi’s script bristles with intrigue and keeps the audience at bay with a mysterious aura. The cast is very convincing at making the viewer feel anxiously unsafe and Logan Marshall Green is terrific as the emotionally unstable Will. His performance is the final compliment to Kusama’s artful direction and Hay and Manfredi’s deeply thoughtful script. They have crafted a slow pot boiler that is deliberate in its progression, because they invite the viewers to think and ponder on where these characters are up to. If you can do that, The Invitation is a clever, well crafted film that will not leave you disappointed. Theodore Shapiro who usually scores lighter fare, provides an equally unnerving score that sets an uneasy tone from the opening scene.
This is a well acted, great looking piece of film noir that relies on well fleshed out characters who are believable and authentic. Hard to find into today’s cinema. You won’t figure the plot out until the very last shot of The Invitation. You are not supposed to. Just stick with it and at the end of the last shot, think about what you have just seen. I did that and I was pleasantly surprised. Hopefully, you will too. The Invitation does not have a big budget or flashy visuals and it does not need them. It is a complex and superbly constructed independent, psychological thriller. If you watch it, just remember to stick with. There is a method to the madness.
The Invitation- **** out of 5
The Invitation- Rated R for language, nudity and violence
The Invitation- Run Time is 100 minutes
The Invitation is in select theaters and On Demand.