SXSW Film/Fantastic Fest 2015 Review: THE INVITATION

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi and directed by Karyn Kusama, this taut thriller had me on the edge of my seat trying to guess the truth behind all of the characters and the frightening scenario they experience.  Still in pain, some time after the death of his son, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) reluctantly accepts a dinner party invitation by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michael Huisman). David and Eden have assembled a group of their old friends, plus a few new additions.  Thinking some socializing might do him some good, Will’s new flame Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) coaxes him to accept their invitation.  What starts out as an uncomfortable and awkward evening eventually devolves into something disturbing and nightmarish.

I am rather impressed with the writing of Hay and Manfredi, the direction by Kusama and the exceptional performances by the cast.  The suspense and questions surrounding the party hosts and guests had me enthralled and the surprises hit all the right notes.  The subject matter has been used in horror and thrillers quite often, but this particular entry definitely is a strong contender for being one of the better ones.  I’d love to divulge more on said subject matter, but I think that the less known about, the greater the payoff will be.

Additional Notes, Updated as of Fantastic Fest 2015:

Again, I will not reveal any more about the story and plot, but must note that I could not pass up the opportunity to see this film again on the big screen.  I had a great time revisiting this outstanding thriller.  Even though I already knew what was going to happen, seeing the movie again gave me the opportunity to pick up on subtle clues and nuances that I previously missed the first time.  It was also a great pleasure to hear the reaction of the audience members as they experienced this film for the first time.  I knew this film would go over well with the Fantastic Fest audiences and I know that fans of suspenseful thrillers will most certainly love this film also.

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