The Invitation (2016) – By Kirsten Walsh

 

While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

Karyn Kusama’s “The Invitation” is a conversation starter, and potentially a conversation finisher as well. A film that strives to make people uncomfortable, just as uncomfortable as the people within the film, it is a fascinating study into the aspect of religion and the modern day cult. After watching the film, I went to sleep and slept incredibly soundly, safe inside of my house and not in a world where dinner parties turn the way that they do in the world of “The Invitation”. But the next morning I woke up and walked into a conversation with two friends who had such jarring views of the film that it opened my eyes to the volume that this film can take.

With a remarkably talented cast of faces that most film lovers would recognize, there is nothing missing from the film. Will (played by Prometheus’ Logan Marshall-Green) plays the audience’s voice throughout the film, which was refreshing in a world of action packed films that leave the viewer feeling left out. This film forces the audience into the dinner party, as if they were invited as well. The breaking of the fourth wall is one that is not done easily, but “The Invitation” pulls it off, harkening back to films like “Dogville”.

This film is polarizing. By the slow burn nature, some audiences can be dissuaded from watching more than half an hour into the film. The first scene in this film is also quite isolating, as the lead character- the one we are supposed to feel most relative to- hits a coyote and then proceeds to kill the coyote with a tire iron before venturing on to the party, hosted by his ex-wife. The story in itself is visceral and awkward- the ex-wife of the lead character is hosting a dinner party 2 years after she left him and disappeared. Now she’s back, with a new love, new friends, and a new outlook on life that may be more dangerous than anybody suspects.

The cinematography is gorgeous in the film, seemingly spotless. The one location, the house, is an incredible look at modern architecture, and the filmmakers definitely used it to highlight and showcase the modern views of the dinner party hosts. The sound is also without much error, causing no distractions, and the music fits in very well.

The film is an excellent commentary on current modern religions and the spell that they tend to have over many people. In several viewpoints, the “invitation” religion that Eden and David (played by Tammy Blanchard and “Game of Thrones’” Michiel Huisman, respectively) can be mirrored to “The Secret”, Mormonism (primarily Fundamental), and of course, Scientology. The fact the film takes place in Los Angeles does not fall on deaf ears, and the final scene is somewhat predictable, but highly entertaining and terrifying at the same time. The film starts off incredibly realistic, but then (hopefully) veers off into a world of pure fiction, leaving the audience with many internal questions.

Would I watch this film again? Absolutely. Since it was so well done, I feel that it is one where every time it is watched, something new will be discovered within the scenery of the scenes. It also is definitely a conversation movie that will open up a lot of awkward topics- it did for me.

Check out “The Invitation” on http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2400463 and see the film, out in theaters now.