Sydney Film Festival: The Invitation (2015)

The Invitation (2015)The Invitation sets a dinner party within a familiar horror movie setting: an expensive, (relatively) isolated mansion. Conspicuously comprehensive security, no mobile phone coverage, a creeping atmosphere of dread. Said mansion belongs to Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and David (Michiel Huisman), who are hosting a reunion of sorts after a sojourn to a ‘grief group’ in Mexico. Eden’s ex-husband, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is increasingly suspicious of their motives, and the presence of weirdly serene guests only intensifies his suspicion.

Except just as we think we’re know exactly where we’re headed, director Karyn Kusama feints in a different direction. Disorienting editing and enigmatic dialogue suggest that perhaps Will’s subjective perspective is not especially reliable. As we learn about the reason for Will and Eden’s divorce, The Invitation begins to transform into an unexpectedly nuanced meditation on grief and acceptance. Perhaps, we begin to wonder, the apparent horror premise was all a ruse.

Unfortunately the promised complexity never quite eventuates. Clunky dialogue suggesting hidden agendas proves to …just be clunky dialogue. That disorienting editing appears to just be a mistake. The Invitation proves to just be another genre film – not a bad one, but one that falls far short its second act’s promise.

3 stars

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