Friday, June 30, 2017

Film Review: The Invitation (2015)

The Invitation (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's a great mixture of horror, thriller, and drama, and that ultimately creates an effective experience."

While attending a reunion at the Hollywood Hills home of his former wife, a man begins to suspect his ex-wife and her new husband have dangerous hidden intentions...

The Invitation is a horror-thriller-drama hybrid. The film follows Will (Logan Marshall-Green), a man who became depressed and estranged after the death of his son. Will and his new girlfriend, Kiara, attend a reunion dinner hosted by Will's ex-wife at their former home—a lavish house at the Hollywood Hills. At the house, we meet Will's ex-wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband, David. He also reunites with a group of his old pals. There are also other people in the house—friends who Eden and David met in Mexico while meeting a cult-like group. Will begins to suspect Eden, David, and the other mysterious guests are trying to hurt them, one way or another; if not that, he believes they're trying to convert them. But, why? It leads to a fairly predictable but effective climax. The ending—as in, the very last minute—was also very effective.

The Invitation is a better experience if go in blind. Don't read spoiler-riddled reviews, don't watch the trailers. (Don't worry, I haven't spoiled anything in this review.) This is a slow-burn movie. I'd liken it to something Ti West would direct, but with a little less style. Occasionally, it may be too slow for its own good. Yes, there are moments where it drags. Fortunately, the slow-burn pace works during most of its runtime. It takes its time to really develop the characters, create an ominous atmosphere, and build-up to its climax. And, most of its suspense is built off of its dialogue, which I always find impressive. It really kept me engaged from beginning to end with its smooth dialogue. Another piece of advice: don't go in expecting some mainstream horror film. This is more of an arthouse movie.

The acting was great. Logan Marshall-Green delivered a fantastic performance as the leading man. His performance is grounded in reality, not overdone or undercooked. Tammy Blanchard played her character well, too. The film was shot well. The music was often minimalistic or nonexistent, but, when it played, it sounded great. The film was written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, and directed by Karyn Kusama. The film tells a familiar story with a few bumps on the road. Mainly, the pacing could have used some work. I don't mind a good slow-burn, but I felt some scenes were unnecessary. It's like watching the fuse on a dynamite, waiting for an explosion, but having to re-ignite it because it took too much time. Again, it's not a persistent problem, but it is there.

Overall, The Invitation is a great film. It's a tense, ominous, and engaging film. It's a great mixture of horror, thriller, and drama, and that ultimately creates an effective experience. The pacing can be a problem at times, but it's otherwise a great movie. If you're a fan of slow-burn movies, this is for you.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence, blood, and partial nudity.

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