Thursday, October 11, 2018
31 Days of Dread--Day 11
The Invitation; 2015; written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi; directed by Karyn Kusama
There's a moment near the beginning of The Invitation that not only tees up everything that follows, but puts the audience on a razor's edge as well. I won't say what it is, because that would ruin the fun. And it's that element of suspense--and its eventual release--that makes The Invitation work so well.
The initial premise is simple enough. Following an absence of two years, a couple invites a group of friends to dinner at their Hollywood Hills home. But from there it gets more complicated and weirder.
Among the assembled is Logan Marshall-Green, the female host's ex-husband. From the moment he arrives things seem off. There's a missing guest. Two odd friends no one has met before. An awkward party game. And a self-actualization movement called The Invitation that the hosts really, really want to share with the others.
The need to observe social niceties as the evening heats up leads to some excruciating tension and shocking reversals. If I have any complaint about The Invitation, it's that the film does such an outstanding job of increasing the anxiety and encouraging your imagination to run away with itself, that by the time things boil over it seems just a tiny bit anti-climatic.
But only a little. Because then there's that final shot, with its helicopters overhead and dogs barking in the distance. It's so unanticipated and unnerving that you might not enjoy dinner at a friend's house for some time.
The Invitation is available on Netflix and streaming rental.