Director: Karyn Kusama
Writers: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Stars: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michael Huisman, John Carroll Lynch
Independent films are once again dominating when it comes to compelling horror and it’s a really welcome change. The past few years have seen such resurgence in horror and with production companies like Blumhouse Pictures, there are more films being produced for the big screen, but they aren’t always worth the price of admission. Film festivals seem to be where the cream is rising and although most may never see a wide release, many are appearing in the comfort of your own home on VOD. Friday, April 8th, marks the release of The Invitation, a psychological thriller that steadily builds tension until the film’s conclusion.
Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is invited to attend a dinner party, hosted by his former wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard), and her new husband, David (Michael Huisman). Eden has been out of touch for about two years, living in Mexico, after she and Will separated. Also attending the party are friends of the former couple. When Eden and Michael begin acting suspiciously, Will fears there is something more sinister behind the reunion.
Included in the gathering are some new friends, known only to Eden and Michael, who steer the activities and the conversation into some inappropriate territory. This prompts some to want to leave, but Michael, Eden and their new friend, Pruitt (John Carroll Lynch), aren’t having it. Michael even locks the front door. Will begins to question everything and is met with logical explanation. Is his paranoia justified or is he having a breakdown?
We begin with Will’s trip to the house. The tension is immediate, but you think, naturally, he’s with his girlfriend and they’re going to the home he used to share with Eden. Will then hits a coyote with the car and uses a tire iron to kill it. Once at the house, pleasantries are exchanged, but it’s evident all of these relationships are strained and the why unfolds throughout the film, as Will explores the house and relives his memories, both joyful and traumatic.
The Invitation is exceptionally shot within the confines of the house, making the film feel increasingly claustrophobic. This heightens the paranoia you begin to feel along with Will. It also delves into processing depression and grief, and how that can manifest in a myriad of ways. The intensity deepens and the payoff in the last 15 minutes is well worth the wait.
Images courtesy of Drafthouse Films