By Chandler Ross (Los Angeles)
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Hello. You are cordially invited by Chandler Marvin Ross to witness a film that I can truly say is something I’ve never seen before. Think you’ve seen a great thriller or drama film this year? Well then, I invite you to a film that beautifully takes all aspects of the above, plus more and elevates the dinner party from hell to another level. So, will you accept my invitation to see The Invitation?

Let’s divulge into this film called The Invitation that I’m guessing the majority of us have never heard of. This is completely fine because I was one of them. I’d never heard of this film until last night, but trust me when I say the less you know about this film, the better off you’ll be.

So, I’m going to be (mostly) brief about this film and the contents of what this invitation really is. Karyn Kusama directs The Invitation, about Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who drive up to the Hollywood Hills for a dinner party hosted by Will’s ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman). In attendance to this party are Will’s old friends as well for what is in my mind a fresh take on that dinner party from hell.

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As far as plot, this is only what I’m going to say about this film because as I stated the less you know about this film the better. The Invitation is going to be a film that might confuse a lot of people in the beginning, I happened to be one of them. Let me care to explain.

This film starts right at the dinner party with not much explanation about our characters, which was a good thing because over the next 99 minutes the audience will begin to see some of the layers of these characters and their overall purpose. Some of the answers however are just peculiar and a bit off-putting, making a little confusion for the viewer. Some of this accomplished through the reliable flashbacks our main character Will goes through. He’s our main viewpoint into this invitation and the very, very slow burn this film begins to show. Speaking of slow burn let me care to explain.

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This film is a metaphor for a boiling pot of water on a stove. It’s room temperature water distilled in a pot at first. As the dinner party slowly starts to begin, the stove burner begins as well. The middle of the film we’re suddenly on this uneasiness as things begin to unravel and tensions are building, or as the water is suddenly heating up. Finally, our climax and ending is an explosion, an actual boiling point. This boiling point was quite intense, but to reiterate my point is that it’s a very slow burn to get there. The audience is mostly kept on their toes about how exactly this seemingly perfect dinner party will go on, still feeling suspense and utter dread that something is off.

As far as performances go, most of the cast was in good shape playing their character though as some points it felt a little clich√© and corny. As far as what this film is trying to convey, all signs point to discussing trauma. Yes, we humans all have to face trauma or tragedy in our lives. Most importantly, it’s how we move on from difficult circumstances and tragedy that define our character. This film does explore a lot of different ways these flawed characters have moved on from tragedy. The results? Heartbreaking and terror would have to describe how this film portrayed ways of coping whenever humans go through tragedy.

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Another thing to point out is the smart and calculated way the writer and director used the single location of the Hollywood Hills house for a 99-minute film. They made sure they used all its worth and it did payoff in some great shots and cinematography for the film as its mostly bleak with a splash of yellow color throughout the film was a bit uneasy.

This film takes the classic dinner party from hell, adds a different spin on it for a truly chilling experience. You’re paranoid one minute and the next you’re on an expedition to figure out this mystery. This experience takes its audience on a very emotional roller coaster filled with mystery, tragedy, thrills, and into a last 30 minutes of fun and insanity. I lived for every minute of it, including its last scene that’s utterly shocking, downright crazy, and yes jaw-dropping.

These are the type of thrillers that need to be showcased and it brings me a little frustration that this film was released in April and hasn’t been talked about much. That’s why I’m inviting all of you that read this to accept this invitation to watch The Invitation. Oh, as far as the location of this invite/film, it’s closer than you think because it’s streaming on Netflix right now. Accept the invitation, stay for the wine and creepiness.

Grade: A-

 

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