Yikes. Biiiiig yikes. This is one of those thriller type films that makes a sudden right turn and then WHOOPS, you’re in cult territory. ‘Yikes’ is the only word for it.
The Invitation is a 2015 psycho-drama slow burn from director Karyn Kusama. Yes, the woman behind cult classic Jennifer’s Body. Unlike her previous work, this movie focuses more on a paranoid male protagonist, rather than a strong female lead. The movie circles around Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his new girlfriend, who are invited to a dinner party at his ex-girlfriend’s house. Sounds strange that someone would invite their ex to a gathering whilst you have a new partner, but it all becomes apparent that there’s still a connection between them for an extremely sombre reason. The ex is now dating David (Michiel Huisman), and upon their first meeting, Will senses something very off about the guy. Eventually, he realises David is plotting something much more sinister than he could ever have imagined.
It must be said, I love cult-y genre films like this. Midsommar was up there with my favourite movies of 2019, and looking for new movies with a similar subject is something I’m always looking to do. Cult shit is fascinating, and whilst there are better movies (see above) on the subject out there, this was not a bad effort!
Don’t expect a ‘jump out of your skin’ slasher out of The Invitation though. You really have to be in the mood for a slow burn to watch this. Thankfully I’m pretty good at slow, and trying to figure out what the hell was going on here keeps you entertained regardless if you have enough imagination. Might I suggest you watch this in a dark bedroom whilst eating popcorn with your partner? Or just a pal would work fine too. Just make sure both parties are prepared to pay attention, and you’ll have a blast.
What is less expected from a movie with such an ominous theme is for there to be much artistic direction within it. However, there are actually some great shots here, especially those by the pool. On top of that, the lighting was some of the best I’ve seen in a horror/thriller of this type. Really nice to look at throughout, and some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in this genre. (Again, not including Midsommar.)
Focused and efficient in a slow-paced kind of way, one can really appreciate that there is some solid backstory to this. It’s not your average cult movie, and there are some defined and definite layers to the subplot. The ending specifically in which the two main characters look across the hills is sublime (but I can’t divulge any information on that because it would be the biggest spoiler possible). However, there needed to be some more excitement through the middle part because one can imagine a lot of people would turn this off around the 50 minute mark. I did warn you that this was a slow burn.
Though not exactly difficult to cast as most of the characters are just your regular Joes, Michael Huisman is suitably creepy and Logan Marshall-Green is excellent as the hero of the story. Sadly there are some questionable performances at times from a few of the other actors, and as soon as you see John Carroll Lynch in any role you just know some shit is about to go down. That guy is a beacon of freak-ism, and he does it well, but it became extremely obvious by the time he showed up that all was not going to be okay.
With generally mixed reviews, one can only assume that some people simply cannot handle such a slow narrative and that’s why The Invitation was not their thing. I generally fall on the more positive side with this one: not the worst thing I’ve seen this year by a long shot.
Yet again, this is another movie that I’d give a solid 3.5, but can’t quite stretch to a 4. So 3 it is – but make sure to take that as a recommendation from me!
The Invitation is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.
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