Director: Karyn Kusama
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman
Running Time: 100mins
The Invitation is a well made and well paced film. In particular it reveals the information slowly, keeping you guessing about it’s destination and the path it is going to take to get there.
The film starts with Will and Kira making their way to Eden’s house after receiving the invitation to dinner. Having not heard anything from Eden for over two years makes Will suspicious to start with but he is willing to go along to see what it is all about. We soon find out that Will and Eden were married in the past and lived in the same house that Eden is hosting the evening in.
We are then quickly introduced to the whole gang that were friends, before Eden’s long term travels, and it is easy to see that there is a lot of familiarity and history amongst these old friends. When Eden and her new partner, Dave, appear they are strangely over-friendly and nice, which causes some consternation and amusement between the old friends. This overly happy attitude encapsulates them through the film, with nothing seeming to cause them issue.
Will, on the other hand, doesn’t find this amusing as he is finding seeing his ex-wife so carefree and happy as an insult to their dead son, presumably the reason behind their splitting up. He has trouble just being in their old house and the memories that it drags up.
As the film advances at it’s leisurely but still entertaining pace, the plot points towards Will being sane and paints Eden, and also Dave and their new friends Pruitt and Sadie, as the unhinged ones, with their slightly strange behaviour and their everlasting forgiveness. There is something not quite right in this house. And then we find out what it is all about. They are members of The Invitation, which is some kind of movement or a cult, a quasi-religious gathering. They call it spiritual but a video shown to the guests shows them sharing in the deaths of others, which obviously doesn’t sit too well with the guests.
What is it about relentlessly happy people that makes them seem off, seem strange or untrustworthy? Then I remembered this quote from The Matrix:
Agent Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilisation.
It clearly says that our brains cannot handle being happy all of the time, we need some misery or sadness to ground us in reality, and this is true here. The happy-happy couple and their new friends give off a feeling of untrustworthy and unhinged. This is also why Will is particularly upset by Eden’s attitude to their loss, he is still feeling the pain and the suffering of this life changing event.
The Invitation has a lot to say about loss, pain and suffering and the different ways in which people deal with this and the effects on their significant others.The music is very understated but discordant, throwing you off and making it feel like something is wrong. It is an interesting film, managing to reach into the areas that horror usually inhabits but in a way that doesn’t feel stereotypical. Entertaining viewing.
Horror Rating: ★★½☆☆
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆