The Invitation (2016)
Directed by Karyn Kusama
RSVP: Not Attending
Two years after she left the country, Will’s ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) returns to Los Angeles with a new boyfriend, David (Michiel Huisman), and a new, more cheerful, disposition. Eden invites Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his new girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), plus a few of the old friends (Michelle Krusiec, Mike Doyle, Jordi Vilasuso, and Jay Larson) to her and David’s posh home in the hills for a reunion dinner and a night of socializing and drinks. Two of Eden and David’s new friends, Pruitt and Sadie (John Carroll Lynch and Lindsay Burdge) are also in attendance. But as the night presses forward, Will begins to suspect something more sinister in Eden’s motives. After the tragedies in Will’s life, though, he’s hardly the most reliable narrator.
The film’s many creepy, disturbing characters are like onions—layered and complex, but still nasty, bitter onions no matter how much you peel away. But in this thriller wrapped in enigma, every character has a nasty side. Logan Marshall-Green is the poor man’s Tom Hardy—the physical likeness is notably similar, but the acting ability is lacking. Regardless, he gives the film’s best performance. The others, especially Krusiec, Doyle, and Larson, are downright amateurish. But they’re not asked to do much—dinner parties can be made to look at least halfway realistic by just about anyone. And “The Invitation” has you thinking about things other than acting. The story is coated in mystery in a way that gives you just enough at a time. Is there a loose end or two? Yes. It was inevitable. But for a genre that generally receives subpar reviews (~55/100, according to Metacritic), “The Invitation” avoids many of the boiler plate thriller standards and sets itself a bar higher.
You know what, I’m going to change my response. I will be in attendance. If more thrillers take a page from “The Invitation,” you can count me in.