There will be many that laud The Invitation (opening today) as some sort of eventual cult-classic hit-in-the-making, and it’s easy to see why: It is a very unique, tense, thrilling movie-going experience. But it is also an uneven mess, so much so that by the time things pick up with about 20 minutes or so left in the film, you may have already lost interest.
The movie stars a bunch of no-name actors, or actors that you feel you’ve seen here and there but aren’t quite sure. Will (Logan Marshall-Green, who looks like a poor-man’s Tom Hardy) is on the way to a dinner party with his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and we know that things aren’t going to go smoothly right out of the gate. The party is being hosted by Will’s ex (Tammy Blanchard) and her new beau (Michael Huisman), and several old friends and ex-business partners are in attendance. Will is paranoid even before he arrives, but things are just…off…at this party, but nobody seems to mind as much as Will does.
So is Will going crazy or is there really something foul going on at this house? The film and filmmaker Karyn Kusama does a great job of establishing an early, eerie tone, and setting up the situation. This is a beautifully shot film too, despite mostly taking place inside the confines of a single house.
The problem though, is that our stay at the party just goes on a bit too long. Things get weirder and weirder, but plot tricks are repeated over and over again. Something strange happens, Will freaks out, the hosts offer a haphazard explanation, and then everyone tells Will to calm down. Rinse and repeat.
It’s a darn shame too, that the middle portion of the movie just drags along, because when things do get lively late in the game, it’s a nail-biter. And when the movie delivers a massive, eye-opening and blood-curdling twist in its very final scene, it was almost enough to redeem the long and windy path that it took to get there.
Almost. Yes it’s a very bold move for an indy-flick like this to try and set-up a cliff-hanger ending that begs of a sequel, I just wish that it would have tied up many of the loose ends it left dangling and came across as more of a complete film. The Invitation is a party that I’d pass on, but strangely enough, I may be open to receiving a second invitation, should that inevitably come to pass.
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes, Not Rated
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Michelle Krusiec, Michael Huisman, John Carroll Lynch, Mike Doyle, Jordi Vilasuso, Tammy Blanchard, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lindsay Burdge, Jay Larson
Directed by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, Aeon Flux, Girlfight)
Opens locally on Friday, April 15, 2016 (check for show times).