In this taut psychological thriller from award-winning director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body), the tension is palpable when Will (Logan Marshall-Green, Prometheus) shows up to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard, Into the Woods) and new husband David (Michiel Huisman, Game of Thrones). The estranged divorcees’ tragic past haunts an equally eerie present; amid Eden’s suspicious behavior and her mysterious house guests, Will becomes convinced that his invitation was extended with a hidden agenda. Unfolding over one dark evening in the Hollywood Hills, The Invitation blurs layers of mounting paranoia, mystery, and horror until both Will-and the audience-are unsure what threats are real or imagined.
The Invitation has been quoted as being the “best horror film of the year” by multiple horror fans all over social media. In fact, it is almost impossible to find anything negative to be said about it. After watching, it is easy to see why. While I wouldn’t call The Invitation the best horror film of the year, it is certainly on the list.
Its been two years since the accidental death of Will and Eden’s son. Will receives an invitation to a dinner party hosted by Eden and her new husband, David. When Will arrives, all of his old friends are there; people Will hasn’t seen since the death of his son.
It is immediately obvious that something strange is going on. Eden and David act like they are on drugs and they have a strange young woman living in the house with them who also seems like she is high. From the moment Will stepped into the house he began having flashbacks to when he was still with Eden and when their son was still alive. Gradually you can see that Will’s grip on sanity is slipping and the strange behavior of his ex wife isn’t doing anything to help the situation. The arrival of another person unknown to Will, a man named Pruitt (John Caroll Lynch) starts to solidify that there is a hidden agenda with Eden and David and it appears that no one is safe from their plan.
Eden, David, Pruitt and houseguest Sadie (Lindsay Burdge) begin to reveal to the group that they are in a cult of sorts, focusing on the beauty of death and how there is nothing to fear with death because it is peaceful and you will end up being with your loved ones. This realization has made them much happier in life and has given them the power to move away from the darkness that lives inside them and move on with their lives. They show the group a video of a woman dying in hopes to let them see what they have learned, a plan that backfires horribly, leaving the group uncomfortable.
As the night goes on, Will becomes increasingly paranoid that there is something sinister going on and that everyone is in danger. The stranger he begins to act, the more paranoid everyone becomes that something sinister is going on with him. It becomes hard to tell who to trust and who is out to do everyone wrong in this intense psychological thriller.
Before watching the movie, I feared that The Invitation would be too much like Danielle Harris’s directorial debut Among Friends, a film about a group of old friends who get together for a dinner party that goes deadly. It was not long before it was easy to distinguish between the two. The Invitation was dark from the very first scene to the very last, an ending that I will not soon forget.
Logan Marshall-Green was the entire movie. He was a man grieving, originally for the loss of his son but, upon his arrival at the dinner party, you could see he was a man grieving the loss of his wife as well and the life he was forced to leave behind. He was not a man of many facial expressions but you could see every bit of pain he had in his eyes. He was easy to relate to and as his paranoia rose, so did yours. If he didn’t trust someone, neither did you. He was the person we would all be in the same situation. In fact, I almost wonder why he stayed at the party as long as he did. I would have left the moment I felt something wasn’t right, if you had been able to get me to that party in the first place.
The Invitation, while not the very best horror film of the year, is easily one of the best. You will find yourself uncomfortable, paranoid and, at moments, pretty frightened. Any film that can pull that off has to be worth watching.
The Invitation is now available on DVD and Blu-ray and for instant streaming on Netflix