The Invitation (2015 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Karyn Kusama|
|Music by||Theodore Shapiro|
|Edited by||Plummy Tucker|
|Distributed by||Drafthouse Films|
The Invitation is a 2015 American horror-thriller film directed by Karyn Kusama and written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. The film stars Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman and Emayatzy Corinealdi. The Invitation premiered March 13, 2015, at the SXSW film festival, and began a limited release on April 8, 2016, and through video on demand, by Drafthouse Films.
Will drives with his girlfriend Kira to the Hollywood Hills home of his ex-wife Eden, who is hosting a dinner party with her new husband David. Will and Eden divorced while trying to cope with their young son Ty's accidental death. Eden met David at a grief support group, and their party will be the first time any of their friends have seen the couple in over two years. On the way, Will strikes and mercy-kills a coyote.
Will and Kira arrive. David and Eden's other dinner guests are Tommy, Tommy's boyfriend Miguel, and friends Ben, Claire, and Gina. Gina mentions that her boyfriend Choi is running late. Eden introduces Sadie, a girl she and David met while in Mexico who now stays with them.
Throughout the evening, Will wanders through his former home alone and relives memories related to Ty's death, including Eden's attempted suicide. In the kitchen, Will witnesses Eden slap Ben when he makes a joke about her New Age ideas on expelling pain. Eden and David's mysterious friend Pruitt arrives. Will notices that David locked the front door. Will later goes for firewood and spies Eden hiding a pill bottle through her bedroom window.
David and Eden tell their guests about a group they joined along with Pruitt and Sadie called "The Invitation" that works through grief using spiritual philosophy. David shows everyone a video in which group leader Dr. Joseph comforts a terminally ill woman as she takes her last breaths. David turns away unseen visitors and explains they were strangers looking for a party nearby. The group play a game of "I Want", an inverse game of "I've Never" where participants share their desires; Sadie kisses Gina, Pruitt confesses to accidentally killing his wife, and Eden kisses Ben. David stops an unsettled Claire from leaving, making Will think David is keeping the guests inside. David changes his mind, and Claire leaves, accompanied by Pruitt, whose car is blocking Claire's. Will watches Pruitt take Claire out of sight to talk to her, and David confronts Will about his suspicion.
During dinner, Will internally reflects on Ty's death. While walking through a hallway, Will sees Sadie make odd faces into a mirror, and they have a strange poolside conversation, during which she sexually propositions him. After rejecting her, Will has a separate discussion with Tommy about the odd atmosphere in the house. Will finally gets a cell phone signal and finds a voice mail from Choi indicating that he arrived before the other guests. Presuming that David and Eden must have done something to Choi, Will publicly confronts the couple about their apparent cult brainwashing. Choi enters unexpectedly, explaining that he was called away by work. Will is embarrassed, but the others assume his residual grief over Ty’s death is causing him to behave irrationally.
Finding his son's room has been renovated and turned into an office, Will finds a laptop with an ominous video from the founder of The Invitation; he also witnesses David lighting a red lantern outside of the house. David pours drinks for the guests and Will smashes the glasses, believing them to be poisoned. Sadie attacks Will who temporarily disables her in the scuffle. Having already drank before Will broke her glass, Gina collapses and dies, confirming Will's belief. David, Sadie, and Pruitt attack the guests, killing Miguel, Choi, and Ben. Will, Kira, and Tommy flee and hide in the house. Feeling regret over the violence of the killings, Eden is comforted by David, who assures her that what they are doing is the only way they can leave the earth and be freed from their pain. Will retrieves a fireplace poker from Sadie while she lies dying after being wounded, presumably by Tommy.
Pruitt finds and attacks Will and Kira. Kira retaliates and beats him to death. Eden shoots Will in the shoulder, and herself in the stomach, severely wounding herself. David attacks Tommy, but Tommy stabs David to death. As she dies, Eden asks Will to come to her in her final moments and to take her to the backyard. Kira, Will, and Tommy reunite and head outside with the dying Eden. Tommy goes back inside for Miguel's body. Kira and Will see helicopters flying above. As they watch, Will sees various homes with the same red lantern David lit. Will realizes that Los Angeles is erupting in chaos as other cult members throughout the city carry out plans similar to David and Eden's. The two hold hands as the sound of sirens escalates.
- Logan Marshall-Green as Will
- Tammy Blanchard as Eden
- Michiel Huisman as David
- Emayatzy Corinealdi as Kira
- Lindsay Burdge as Sadie
- Michelle Krusiec as Gina
- Jordi Vilasuso as Miguel
- Mike Doyle as Tommy
- Jay Larson as Ben
- John Carroll Lynch as Pruitt
- Karl Yune as Choi
- Toby Huss as Dr. Joseph
- Marieh Delfino as Claire
In May 2012, it was announced that Luke Wilson, Zachary Quinto, Topher Grace and Johnny Galecki had initially been scheduled to star in the film, with Karyn Kusama directing from a screenplay written by Phill Hay and Matt Manfredi, and XYZ Films producing the film alongside Martha Griffin, Manfredi and Hay. However, in July 2014, it was revealed that production on the film had concluded, with Logan Marshall-Green, Michiel Huisman, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Lindsay Burdge, and John Carroll Lynch starring. The Invitation is the second feature to be financed by Gamechanger Films.
The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 13, 2015. Shortly after, it was announced Drafthouse Films had acquired distribution rights to the film. The film went on to screen at the London Film Festival on October 9, 2015, and was released on April 8, 2016, in a limited release and through video on demand.
The Invitation holds an 88% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 89 reviews, and has an average rating of 7.6/10. The critical consensus reads: "The Invitation makes brilliant use of its tension-rich premise to deliver a uniquely effective – and surprisingly clever – slow-building thriller." On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 74 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".
Justin Chang of Variety wrote, "This teasingly effective thriller represents director Karyn Kusama's strongest work in years." Josh Kupecki of The Austin Chronicle said, "There are some very interesting ideas about grief, depression, and how we cope with life-changing events in this modern world, but ultimately, the film doesn't offer anything new to the 'dinner party from hell' subgenre." Dominick Suzanne-Mayer of Consequence of Sound rated it A− and wrote, "In so many words, The Invitation is supremely well-crafted," while Samuel Zimmerman of Shock Till You Drop said, "The Invitation is a startlingly adult thriller that, unlike Eden and her guests, is willing stare down the weight our lives can bear." Peter Martin of Twitch Film intoned, "The sincerity and craft on display notwithstanding, the movie achieves a limited, unsettling level, and then stops right there," while Drew Tinnin of Dread Central rated the film 4/5 stars and wrote, "The Invitation works so well because it taps into our general distrust of the world around us and how our survival instinct has been muted and ignored in order to maintain the appearance of being polite." Matt Donato of We Got This Covered rated the film 2.5/5 stars, writing, "The Invitation is a slow, SLOW burn that fails to find the winning ingredient that makes for a perfect dinner party thriller." Heather Wixson of Daily Dead rated it 4.5/5 stars and called it "some of the most assuredly confident and nuanced work from [Kusama] to date and one of the most devastating horror films I’ve seen in years."
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