The Invitation

Are There Lesbians? No

What Happens?
A fancy dinner party goes south after the hosts reveal they are in a cult and encourage their guests to join.
tw: attempted suicide, suicide, death, murder, home invasion, cults

The Verdict:
The first thing I noticed about The Invitation is its dedication to aesthetics. This is a very carefully shot film that makes good use of the lavish Los Angeles home it is set in. It is also very dark and while this creates a great atmosphere of both grief and terror, it does make the film genuinely difficult to watch, if only because I spent so much time trying to work out what I was looking at. Luckily the majority of the action and group scenes are well-lit enough that it isn’t hard to understand what is happening, although I did find myself wondering how the dinner guests were able to see their food during the main course. The use of flashbacks throughout the film was actually not as annoying as many can be – once I worked out what the hell they were about. Either I missed something vital in the early dialogue or the creators expect you to have read the blurb before watching because it took me about half of the film to work out that Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and Eden (Tammy Blanchard) were ex-partners dealing with the grief of having lost a son two years prior.

Will oscillates wildly between being a character I could cheer for and a character that made me spend much of my time yelling at. He is a grieving man returned to the place of his worst trauma who has then found that the one person he thought would understand him has apparently moved on. In this respect he is a well-created character with motivations that make his incessant suspicions and wandering around the house more believable. However, this is where the slide into white-man-grief-porn begins. So much of the film felt like wandering endless dark corridors with this man-bunned-hipster-dude I actually didn’t know that much about, and for a majority of the film I didn’t really care to. Will’s refusal to emotionally rely on Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), his girlfriend, or even his supposed best friends irked me in the extreme. He spent so much time alone in the kitchen that I started to feel that not only was he a terrible boyfriend but I also started to seriously wonder how the hell he had managed to convince this clearly more mature and capable woman to date him. It wasn’t until the cult-joining ex-wife spanner was thrown into the works that I actually started to believe that this group of people had once been best friends and were willing to support each other. On top of this, it took a series of murders for Will to hold his girlfriend’s hand and actually step up into being a somewhat competent man willing to rely on others. Bit of a metaphor for grief really.

This hallway is actually my favourite character and I’m glad it got to feature on a poster

[[Mild Spoilers Below]]

As a horror/thriller film, The Invitation did an excellent job of scene-setting. A few cliché’s and foreboding events are thrown in the mix early on but that just makes for what I call good horror. Will is the only character aware that he is in a home-invasion style horror movie and his panic and suspicion only ramps up as events continue, leaving you wondering if he is right to be suspicious or if the cult Eden and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman) have joined is wacky, but ultimately harmless. The eventual murders are exciting but when they occur they do not feel like the main focus of the film – and in reality they aren’t. The Invitation is a film about desperate people and the lengths they will go to in order to ignore or deal with their grief. And as the final, chilling shot of the film reveals, desperate grieving people are everywhere.

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