The Invitation Review (2015)

The Invitation review

by Jessica Gomez on October 17th, 2018 | |

The Invitation was directed by Karyn Kusama (who also directed Jennifer’s Body) and stars Michiel Huisman, Logan Marshall-Green (from Upgrade) and Tammy Blanchard (from Boarding School). 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.

There is nothing to be afraid of

The Invitation Review

Trauma happens at some point to many of us, and it affects us in different ways. The Invitation shows us what happens when a tragedy consumes a life, how that tragedy can easily be exploited, and how a latent distrust for those who’ve experienced trauma can be deathly wrong.

Will, while on the way to his ex-wife’s dinner party, hits a coyote. The coyote is clearly struggling, so he decides to kill it with the only tool available to him: a tire iron. The scene is meant to put you on edge – was this man showing mercy to the coyote, or is he just a psychopath? This feeling stays with you throughout the entire film; you’re never quite sure whether or not to trust Will, his emotions or his decisions. At times he makes sense, but other times, he can be erratic.

When Will arrives at Eden’s house, she looks the part of her name. She is ethereal, bright, and happy. As the evening unfurls, we begin to learn more about their time together – that they were once in love, but two years ago, they lost a child. Once that happened, their time in the sun was over, and Eden disappeared, until now. Will has a dark cloud hanging over him, and it lends a hand to thinking that he may be overreacting to certain events throughout the night, that he is forever traumatized and sees the world a bit differently.

Flashes of his old life tell us what happened years ago, how Eden had once tried to commit suicide over the pain of losing a child. However, now Eden seems to be almost joyful, and she credits this to her time away in Mexico once she received The Invitation. Spoilers ahead.

She and her new husband David play a video from the place they’ve visited, and it’s immediately clear that what they’ve joined is a cult. Some members of the cult are present at the dinner party, and they seem a little off. All of them seem to have been lost and looking for something in their life when they stumbled upon The Invitation. Will’s old friends seem to think it’s a little weird, that their friend joined this cult and is now apparently trying to get them to join by playing their video. But most brush it off; everyone tries to be understanding of the mother who lost her child. She seems happy, and they want to support her. Will, however, knows Eden better than anyone, and he knows that something isn’t right. There is sadness behind her cheerfulness.

Determined to make this the world’s most awkward dinner party, David asks each guest what they truly want. Want cocaine? No problem. Most of the cult members allude to wanting relief from pain, which perks Will’s interest. It almost seems like a “last wish” type of game, and when David offers everyone wine, Will is certain that they are trying to poison the members of the party. He, justifiably, has a massive freak-out, which just makes him look crazy – even though he turns about to be right. The scene with the coyote comes to mind. David is trying to ease everyone’s pain by taking it away (or, at least, that’s what he says.) But these people are not maimed animals, and the decision to live has been taken from them. To suggest that living with any kind of pain is not living is to suggest that every person on earth should die.

I had my reservations about Will, but any time there’s a cult in the picture, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a Jim Jones situation. Eden met her new husband in grief counseling, suggesting that he, like most predators, had chosen her because he knew she would be at the weakest point in her life, and at her most vulnerable.

You’re kept on your toes as you watch, your mind always working to put the pieces together. The director and writers did an excellent job making it unclear what was real and what was a figment of imagination until the very end.

It’s also an important lesson in depression and grief – they’re still the person they always were, underneath. Really great acting (most notably from Logan Marshall-Green) made a big difference in making this such a success. Tons of suspense and the payoff that I was hoping for made me wonder why there aren’t more women directing horror.

The Verdict:

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