Monday, 1 August 2016

Review: The Invitation

2015 Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman

After reluctantly accepting an invitation to a dinner party at his former home, a man suspects his ex wife and her new partner may have darker intentions for him and the other guests.

The Invitation was a film that passed under my radar for quite some time before I became aware of it, even then it wasn't through any reviews, but rather a passing glance in the 'others also watched' section. Nothing could have quite prepared me for just what a little gem of a thriller this film was!

Set in the Hollywood hills inside a huge hilltop estate, The Invitation promptly introduces us to our main characters. They are a fairly standard mix of 30 somethings ranging from a gay couple, a party loving Korean and the 'never quite grew up' joker. Amongst these are our 3 leads, Will, his ex wife Eden and her new husband David.

The audience is instantly thrown into the situation along with Will, we uncover and are made aware of things the same time he is. The pacing of the film is a real slow burner and throws up quite a few false flags and red herrings. Every time the might think you have the true purpose for the party figured out, you are then confronted with another reveal or another missing puzzle piece. These trickles of new information and extremely restrained pace make for a nail biting watch. The Invitation made me want to look at everybody as a potential threat or enemy, even when the threat of violence didn't seem present. I never once doubted the character of Will though and actor Logan Marshall-Green absolutely nailed the strong silent type role. He was hypnotising to watch and conveyed so much pain and emotion even through what may seem to others like a blank stare.

As the night progresses and the estranged couple continue to make their guests uncomfortable, it is here that the night takes a dark turn. The film had such a huge sense of build up that you are ready for all out war during the final act. The Invitation however still handles this moment with perfect poise, flare and that ever present sense of control. The violence is erratic, explosive and realistic. Those looking for their horror film gore fix wont find it here, instead we have real action with real consequences. It is the split second life changing decisions that characters make that disturbs, not so much the bloodshed itself.

So this grand finale scene may not please everyone, some will have wanted more but what comes after is the biggest surprise of all. There is a final shot that shows the larger scale of things and it is one of the biggest revelations I have seen in cinema for a long while, I absolutely revelled in this moment and it elevated the film to even greater heights.

The Verdict

The Invitation is a thought provoking and well crafted thriller. The slow crawl pacing, beautiful cinematography and haunting sound track ramp up the tension to almost unbearable levels. An extremely solid lead cast and great supporting roles are all names to look out for in the future, the grand finale may not satisfy the expectations of all audiences but that final shot will leave your jaw on the floor. This is one invitation not to be missed.


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