Thanks to Netflix I was invited to the party and the result is an underrated horror drama that demands patience with the promise of a major payoff. Paranoia is a crucial element to the story and as it progresses so too does the paranoia. The genius of this film is the misdirection of just where that paranoia is coming from and who it should be directed toward. The main protagonist is clouded in doubt; doubt of himself, his friends and their seemingly veiled intentions. As he repeatedly accuses those around him of nefarious desires he is almost immediately proven to be nothing but unwarranted in his paranoia. His tragedy has left him dealing in a way that differs from his friends and this causes him to react poorly to their apparent ability to forget the event that changed them all forever.
As I’ve said more times than I can count, character is most important in a story. No matter the strength of the story if the characters in it are shallow cutouts of human beings it lessens the impact of anything that may follow. In a moment of unadulterated brutality everything changes for these lifelong friends. Before this event can take place, for it to matter everything leading up to it must be about the characters themselves and their relationships with one another. There is a history among them that we as the audience are just becoming aware of and therefore must be brought up to speed in a timely but believable manner. These moments are the more intimate conversations away from the group where we learn the most about who these people are why they’ve come together after being seperated for two long years. This is where the dynamics of the group come into focus as each character takes on their usual role among the group. And since they know each other so well the differences in the hosts of the party, even after two years of separation, are all the more glaring. There’s the ugly face of paranoia continuing to build, to something.
After an established history between the friends the tragedy that changed them all must come into focus. This is where the theme of acceptance, or lack thereof, comes into play. His pain that overwhelms him is a pain that he cannot imagine ever getting passed. So when he sees his ex-wife “cured” of her pain he is filled with a concoction of emotions that culminate in his disdain and distrust for her and her current husband. He doesn’t understand her ability to move on and he hates her for trying to drag him from his self made prison of depression and unwillingness to forgive himself.
At a certain point in the midst of this heartbreaking reunion he is forced to face his actions. He has repeatedly made an ass of himself and the night is suffering as a result. He begins to come around as the doubts plaguing his mind start finding their very unassuming answers. But that paranoia is a fickle beast to tame and it isn’t quite done with him just yet.
Through a slow but steady pace we learn more and more about the events that have taken place and allusions of what’s to come. The camera glides among them as the tensions rise. As it floats through the house our main character once lived in we are given a glimpse of the architecture but more than this we are shown how many memories inhabit this house, once a home but no longer. We see the tragedies in his worn face as he wanders through his long lost past reliving everything he had once forgotten. We see the breath leave his expressionless, depression riddle body that permeates every aspect of his aimless existence. Through calm, unobtrusive cinematography the finality of this night is all the more shocking.
It’s difficult trying to describe a film where the most important moments are spoilers to the overall purpose of the invitation of long lost friends. But I will say this: If you hang in there, the slow moments are important to the ultimate finale that I promise absolutely delivers. My jaw dropped as the ending came and the story exploded and if you give it a chance, The Invitation will leave you in awe all the same.
Unrated: Contains language, violence, bloody images, brief graphic nudity and some sexual content
Runtime: 100 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Jay Larson, John Carroll Lynch
Directed By: Karyn Kusama
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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