THE INVITATION (2015) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KARYN KUSAMA / SCREENPLAY: PHIL HAY, MATT MANFREDI / STARRING: LOGAN MARSHALL-GREEN, EMAYATZY CORINEALDI, MICHIEL HUISMAN / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 4TH
Receiving a dinner party invitation from his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) who he hasn't seen in years, Will (Marshall-Green) and girlfriend Kira (Corinealdi) agree to attend a night in a familiar house that they'll never forget. From the get-go, there are a handful of crucial themes that delicately thread their way throughout the visuals, but the main one that shines through is the grief of losing a loved one, as we discover Will and Eden's unfortunate past. It has a polar opposite effect on each of them as we see how they deal with something so horrible. Their shared nightmarish background is a complicated and dynamic beast that glues everything firmly together.
Returning to direct her first film in seven years, Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Destroyer) has pulled out all of the stops to give us something astonishing. Channelling a feel of dread that doesn't seem forced from what may appear to be a normal dinner party in the Los Angeles Hills could be a challenge to some, but it's something that she dominates. She has highlighted the acting specialities of Marshall-Green, as Will effortlessly expels unpredictable tension while interacting with his old friends at what quickly comes across as an unsafe event, that’ll even have you the viewer scanning the screen for the best exit; a career-changing example of less is more.
Without giving too much away, we have to mention the sublime and disturbed acting work of John Carroll Lynch. His innocent manner on the surface to shaping Pruitt is both our bridge between plot holding characters and an alternating friendly and sinister landscape. As an actor, there’s a lot he needs to give the audience, but he excels to continuously provide balance and structure to an intimate setting.
With limited filming locations, a psychological and close quarters output like this just does not survive without dedicated writing, which has been given to us by the creative triangle of Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, and Karyn Kusama. They have carefully placed tension around an emotional past as our guests interact and, as secrets brew to the surface, we get to lavish in a haunting conclusion.
For those looking for further detail about this unique project, then you'll need to dig your teeth into the special features. We get spoilt with interviews from most of the main actors as they describe the characters they portray. There’s a detailed discussion with Kusama, who is extremely passionate about her work. As well as exciting commentary from Kusama, Hay, and Manfredi. This really is, excuse the pun, an invitation that you just don't want to ignore.