Monday, October 3, 2016

The Invitation Review

I wouldn't say I am antisocial, that word is tossed around commonly but it refers to a pretty extreme personality type that causes a person to completely shy away from being in the company of others. I think the word that describes me is asocial, as I am more than willing to participate in conversation and have a lot of fun in a group setting as long as I feel comfortable. That comfort is crucial though.

Let's set up a scenario real quick: you get invited to a dinner party with old, cherished friends, but it's at your ex-wife and her new husband's house. Not only that, but it's the same home you once called your own but now you would be nothing more than a guest. Based solely on that information, are you attending the dinner party?

Prior to seeing The Invitation, my answer would have been a resounding no. After seeing The Invitation, my answer is holy fuck no, why would you even ask me that question?

This is where my asocial personality comes in handy. You all can have your dinner parties that take place under incredibly awkward circumstances before they even begin. Enjoy. I will be sitting on my couch watching tense, brilliant films about them and how they went horribly, horribly wrong.

The experience I had watching The Invitation was so rewarding, and it's a shining example of the value of knowing absolutely nothing about a film going in, and I do mean nothing. No synopsis, no trailers, no clips, no cast even. I had no idea who, what, where, when or why, all I knew was that people I know and trust were giving it really positive feedback. To all of those people, bless you for pointing me in the direction of this fascinating, unnerving gem.

Directed by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer's Body), The Invitation is a low-budget horror thriller that utilizes a single setting for nearly its entirety outside of the opening minutes showing Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) driving towards their destination, a dinner party at his former home, currently occupied by his ex-wife and her new husband. As they approach the car slams into a coyote and Will mercy kill it, but even with mercy there is a brutal edge to this moment that is unshakable. This scene happens so early in the film it's easy to forget about it by the time this disturbing cinematic ride is done, but it's an important moment because it sets the tone for the picture, it develops the character of Will as someone who carries both compassion and a willingness to do what is necessary, and it also serves as a dreary foreshadowing of what is to come later. Will shows up to his former home ready to put on his best face, but on the side of it is a single drop of blood. He will never feel completely clean and whole again.

So many films try to do too much. The Invitation is a celebration of simplicity, an enthusiastic reminder of what is possible when talented people, a great script and a perfect musical score come together. When I decide whether or not I want to attend a dinner party, how comfortable I feel is crucial. When I am watching a delicious little genre film that means to rattle, disturb and upset, a lack of comfort is crucial. The Invitation is 100 minutes of never quite feeling comfortable.


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