The following is a review of The Invitation, available in some regions on Vimeo via Drafthouse Films. I attribute it to 2016, due to the fact that it was only released at festivals in 2015 and had its official release in 2016.
This film wasn’t anywhere on my radar until very recently. I didn’t hear about this film until a few weeks ago, when I was watching Meet the Movie Press, and The Wrap‘s Jeff Sneider brought up this suspense thriller he had just seen. I looked its trailer up on YouTube and I was instantly intrigued. The Invitation is a really neat thriller.
The Invitation follows Will (played by Logan Marshall-Green) as he attends a dinner party for him, and his old group of friends, thrown by his ex-wife (played by Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband (played by Michiel Huisman). But Will keeps having these visions at the party, and he starts to become rather paranoid. Something might be wrong with the dinner party. And that’s all I’m going to say, as the trailer doesn’t hint at anything else, and this film just needs you to go in without having a clear idea of what is going to go on.
These aren’t the most well-known actors in the world, but there are some people that you’ll definitely recognize. Will, the protagonist, is played excellently by Logan Marshall-Green, who you definitely saw in Prometheus. Michiel Huisman, who plays the new husband to Will’s ex-wife, might actually be the most relevant actor to general audiences. Huisman plays Cal in Orphan Black, Ellis Jones in The Age of Adaline, and Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones. It is a well-acted film, but the story and the direction are the real highlights of the film.
I’m going to be perfectly honest here, without revealing any real story spoilers, and I’ll start by saying that I could definitely see some audiencemembers be a bit disappointed with a lot of this film. You can’t just jump into the story half-way through it. This film is a slow burn. The Invitation doesn’t grab you straight away, and I could see some viewers not really being that interested in it.
But I truly believe that if you give this film the appropriate time, then you will receive an awesome payoff. Even if you find the first half of the film drawn-out, I assure you that it will all be worth it in the final act of the film. I thought the first half of the film was intriguing, and The Invitation slowly builds the uneasy nature of Will’s surroundings.
I would even say that the film could lull you into a sense of security, in spite of how odd everything can seem. What is really happening here? Is Will a reliable protagonist? You get your answers, but you have to take your time with the plot. And then, after the film gets ready to rest for a moment, you are thrown back in the deep end of the pool, as it were.
I will say that I thought the very end of the film, meaning basically the last two or three shots of the film, didn’t really work for me. But the third act payoff was enough for me to forgive this tiny annoyance. The payoff is worth the slow burn of the film, the performances are solid – The Invitation is an excellent suspense thriller, and I strongly urge you to check it out. Director Karyn Kusama has crafted a special must-watch thriller, don’t miss this one!
8.5 out of 10
– I’m Jeffrey Rex