I don’t get to go to the movies as often as I’d like to, but that doesn’t mean I can’t watch awesome flicks at home. Thank God for VOD!
In my life, I have been lucky enough to be able to maintain a whole slew of close relationships and deep friendships with a number of people, some going back 25 years or more. Our tight-knit little group has bonded together more and more through every era of our lives, every triumph, every tragedy, and then some, keeping in contact despite the physical distance between us. When we all do get together, it’s as if no time has passed at all. We all still love each other. I love that. I don’t know a whole lot of people that have that, and it’s a very precious thing to me.
Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation finds a group of old friends getting together for the first time in a long time for a dinner party. In some ways the scene feels familiar, a reconnecting, a rehashing of old stories, laughing and drinking, and a refamiliarizing of oneself with fond friends and shared memories. Then things begin to get odd. Tension mounts. Old wounds are reopened. People aren’t who they seem to be. Paranoia takes hold. And soon our protagonist Will, played by Logan Marshall-Green, begins to break. Is he just unhinged, a fragile psyche warped by grief and suspicion, or is something far more sinister afoot? As the film unfolds, we’re never really sure…until the climax in the third act.
I can’t add anything further. Don’t let anyone ruin it for you.
Recently, I’ve found myself really digging on slow burn kind of movies, films that use growing tension, or unease, or dread to really propel the narrative forward. They can be disquieting in their pacing, projecting the characters’ anxieties onto the viewer in hand-clenching, brow-sweating fashion, all before an ending that can be shocking, or devastating, or disorienting, but ultimately earned. The Invitation delivers this in spades, said tension, dread, and paranoia gradually getting heavier and more pulse pounding until the events take a wicked turn.
Kusama and cinematographer Bobby Shore set the atmosphere using softer and darker light and focus to give the film an almost made-for-television like quality. The familiarity gives the film a more intimate feeling, like the dimmed lighting you might expect at a dinner party. As things grow tenser among the group of friends, a schism slowly growing between them all, this same lighting and focus starts to become eerie and dreamlike, the setting once warm and unreserved now haunting and uneasy. It works wonderfully well within the narrative structure of the film, complimenting both the story and the performances from the ensemble.
The Invitation will see release on Drafthouse Films in the very near future, and given the stellar, unique, and eclectic nature of the movies distributed by them, should pique your interest if my ramblings above failed to do so.
Also, check out the trailer below…and be leery of any old friends inviting you to dinner…unless they’re my old fiends. They’re cool.
From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.