Directed by Karyn Kusama
Will and his new girlfriend Kira are invited to a dinner with old friends at the house of Will’s ex Eden and her new partner David. Although the evening appears to be relaxed, Will soon gets a creeping suspicion that their charming host David is up to something.
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★★★★ review by josh lewis 🌹 on Letterboxd
"... that was mercy"
the destructive, wavelike nature of grief as a communal experience that permeates every space we occupy, every movement we make & every interaction we have. kusama's formal grace is the obvious star here, the masterful staging, gestures & spatial awareness she shows off in particular, but as the film goes on & the screws tighten agonizingly slowly all the way until its haunting final image, kusama achieves something far beyond form -- her genre thrills deeply woven with a sense of the pervading, inescapable pain that, whether we're struggling to remember or forget, can blind us as easily as it brings us together.
★★★★½ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd
A story of distance fed through the impenetrable barrier of grief. LA is seen as a glowing mirage within a hazy landscape, and the hills appear seductive, even flirtatious, in the face of looming modernity. It is where the damaged and the fearful, the deranged and the affected choose to reside, literal detachment encasing their unease. Karyn Kusama builds an entire universe - people as planets and spaces as mysterious areas of darkness and unknown conversations - so that the eventual horror unravels organically, all a singular puzzle although each piece is utterly fractured. And Will - played by a terrific Logan Marshall Green - is the audience surrogate, spinning around uncertain friends and foes in a woozy state, forever lost to the past and its lingering power. All of the dynamics between the players are immediate - an disorganized group of personalities which never rise to Will's level of paranoia - but intended by design, especially as the formal elements shift from graceful movements to disconcerting shakiness. Even the "twisty" story is hardly a revelation, but Kusama subverts typical genre outcomes with grade-A elegance and eventual hostility. Up there with The Thing, Clue, and the thrillers of Jaume Collet-Serra in terms of evoking environment and bodies in separate spaces, with interior collisions and confrontations being just as evil as the intricacies of human nature.
John Carroll Lynch is one of the greats, btw.
★★★★ review by Daniel Rodriguez on Letterboxd
Hello, my dear and beloved letterboxd friends. Tomorrow I will be celebrating my 26th birthday! When I joined letterboxd, I was merely 22, still young and unexperienced, definitely not acquainted to the many issues of adulthood. Now, that I have seen, I have suffered, I have loved and I have lived, I feel nothing but enormous joy for sharing this space with you. Therefore, to celebrate life, love and joy, I extend a formal invitation to my birthday party, which will be celebrated on the evening of this Sunday at my secluded house on the hills. You are all invited and I hope to introduce you to some of my new friends I made in my last trip to Mexico. It is going to be a truly delightful night and truly I hope you all like wine! =)
Now, to the actual review...
After It Follows, I didn't expect seeing anything truly great for some time. Then I got The Witch right there on my face. I definitely didn't make the same mistake of questioning the quality of the movies coming out after The Witch though, which was a wise decision. Less than a month after Thomasin's Adventure with a Goat, we had Baskin and now, The Invitation. What a great movie this is!
Karyn Kusama completely nailed the perfect mood and tone for it right in the beginning, after a small car accident scene, involving some roadkill. There is an unsettling realism constructed through believable performances and sharp dialogue. There isn't a single moment that The Invitation doesn't convey emotion. The director plays with the viewer's expectations in a fantastic manner, to a point it is hard to guess what will happen next, even when there is just a conversation going on.
Logan Marshall-Green, AKA Tom Hardy Junior, gives my favorite male performance of 2016 so far. His character is so layered he doesn't cease to amaze. He ranges from angry and paranoid to sad and cynical, and it is outstanding. The conversations are a constant in this movie, so having great performances and writing were the quintessential part of The Invitation's success.
Go watch this right now!
★★★★ review by bree1981 on Letterboxd
Celluloid Screams 2015 Film # 1
Sheffield's premier horror festival started off with a bang by showing this deeply unsettling movie from director Karyn Kusama (Jennifer's Body and the criminally underseen Girlfight). The kind of film where it's best to go in cold, I knew very little about what I was about to see but from the very first scene you may not be sure of where exactly the movie will go but the sense of unease is constant and there is a feeling in your gut that things won't end well.
Logan Marshall Green stars as Will, a man with a fragile state of mind who has obviously gone through a personal tragedy in his past, he accepts an invitation to attend a dinner party thrown by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new man David (Michiel Huisman) at his former home. Also attending the party are a host of old friends making it into a reunion of sorts as well as a couple of mysterious new faces invited by David.
The best part of this movie is that it keeps you guessing, there are a few different roads it can take and I don't think it ever goes the obvious route, it builds slowly letting us get invested in the various characters but it pays off in spades in the last act. The film is also well acted with Green excellent in the lead role, quite and withdrawn, he's a man on the edge of a breakdown and when he decides that something sinister is going down we aren't sure whether or not it's all in his mind or not. John Carroll Lynch also deserves a mention, channelling his performance from Zodiac it's apparent from the first time we meet him that he's a bad egg and when he tells the story about his wife it's quite chilling.
Overall, I really enjoyed this, the stage play like setting really works and I got sucked up in the mounting tension and paranoia , I'm also so glad they went all out with the last act, the director could have taken the film a few different ways but I think she nailed it by going full throttle for the climax, highly recommended.
★★★½ review by Travis Lytle on Letterboxd
There is delicious and devilish thread of Hitchcockian tension running through Karyn Kusama's "The Invitation." It is tension writ by untrusting glances, notes of unease, and a refusal to accept things for what they are. This tension drives the film and makes Kusama's drama a thrilling, nearly horrific look at the company of acquaintances.
Here there be no spoliers, but Kusama's film revolves around a dinner party peopled by friends, former spouses, and new lovers. Wine flows, and games are played; but, soon, the fete's purpose is revealed. That purpose is secondary to its build up where distrust is sown through word, deed, and history.
The story is minimal. With only a small collection of characters and plot beats, Kusama's drawing room drama covers a limited narrative landscape. However, its emotions and human pulses are large, and the story is able to generate dread, fear, and frightening passions with ease.
The film's physical geography is as tightly controlled as its story. A well-appointed house, its yard, and distant hills make up the drama's arena; and Kusama captures it all in a shadowed richness. Editing adds a subtle propulsiveness to it all, but the cast of characters, through tone of voice and facial expression, conveys the film's harrowing center.
With "The Invitation," Kusama weaves a potent web of dramatic chills and taut, measured excitement. The type of film that builds slowly and layers itself satisfyingly until its expected yet jolting conclusion, "The Invitation" is an effortlessly compelling, smartly constructed, and quietly robust piece of work.
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