the invitationDrafthouse Films
2015
NR

“I’m so glad you’re here. We have a lot to talk about. So much to say tonight.”

While attending a dinner party at his former house, a man starts to believe that his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister plans for the guests.

The Invitation was one of those movies that I heard getting quite the buzz around the independent movie circuit, getting rather positive reviews from the regular horror movie blogs and websites I frequented. It was described not as your standard horror movie, nothing supernatural, and also not one of the many type of siege and home invasion type horror movies that have come out in the past few years. It took me a bit to get around to watching this for myself, but finally the chance happened for me to do so.

In the movie, this young couple are on their way to a dinner party that, as we find out, is being thrown by the guy’s ex-wife and her new husband. So, already we’re being thrown into the awkwardness right off the bat. Lovely. Then they hit a coyote along the way. Of course, the two don’t seem to take this as an ominous sign, so they make it to the house, which also happens to be the house the guy and his ex-wife used to live in, until the tragedy that tore them apart happened. So, yeah. Unpleasant memories on top of seeing the woman you used to love intensely be happy with someone else, inside of the house you two used to…you know what, let’s just move forward, shall we? When they arrive, they meet several of the other guest that are there, including that of a young lady that the ex-wife and new husband decided to have live with them after meeting her at a spa retreat in Mexico. As they all chat and such, the tensions rise as memories come flooding back to the young man, and he begins to suspect something sinister is afoot, as everyone’s a little too friendly…and also his ex’s husband has locked all the doors. Then they’re all shown a kind of infomercial recruiting video for that “spa” in Mexico that is totally not a cult that, as it turns out, the ex-wife went to not too long ago to help deal with the tragedy of her son’s death on his 10th birthday. The reaction to this is what you would expect, though not as harsh as if they were being pitched AmWay. They continue on with the dinner and socializing, as the young man grows a bit more paranoid as the night wears on. Everyone assures him that everything is all right…up until the time when he realizes he was correct all along.

I have to give this film credit: I had no idea what kind of movie I was going to be watching going into this. I wasn’t even certain while I was watching the movie itself, as it did a really good job at keeping things close to the chest and just letting the story unfold slowly and letting you try and think things through. This movie is intense, and in that slow-burn, tension mounting, something just isn’t right kind of vibe that builds up to a bursting point, and when it does burst it’s quite effective. All of the actors were great, giving fantastic performances and really pushing forth the genuine sense of tension and uncomfortable atmosphere. The film is rather claustrophobic, as it’s mostly set inside of a house (with some scenes outside of the house briefly), and overall, when it came to the twist ending, leading up to it I was still uncertain if it was going to be the one that I thought it would be. Turns out, it is, but I’m not going to say what it is.

Overall, The Invitation turned out to be much, much better than I expected, with a completely fleshed out cast of characters, some very powerful performances, and a thick atmosphere of claustrophobia and paranoia that leads to a very satisfying ending. Highly recommended.

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