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The Invitation (2015)

The psychological thriller/horror is written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, and directed by Karyn Kusama. It stars Logan Marshall-Green as Will, Tammy Blanchard as Eden, and Game of Thrones’ Joe Allen look-a-like Michiel Huisman as David. Will and his girlfriend are invited along with other old friends to the house of his ex-wife and her new husband (Eden and David). Nobody has seen each other for two years since the death of Will and Eden’s son when they were together. As the reasons behind the sudden invite are revealed, and the behaviour of their hosts grows increasingly stranger, Will becomes more and more suspicious of the couple’s motives for having everyone over.

The Invitation is a film that grabbed my imagination when I first came across the trailer. It looked really creepy, character motives were really vague and unnerving, I could watch it on Netflix, and it had that guy from Game of Thrones in it. It also really reminded me of The Gift (2015), a brilliant psychological horror. I really enjoyed that film, and Joel Edgerton really impressed me in his directorial debut. So when I saw the trailer for this, with a similar-ish plot and familiar feel (even the claustrophobic house looked the same) I was sold. The Invitation has an unnerving and awkward tone throughout. The piercing sound effects and score got me on edge straight away.

The main character Will is forever trying to make sense of what is going on around him, and the story leaves you very unsure as to who is in the wrong here. Why the sudden invite? Where have they been for two years? Why is David so keen to lock the front door and keep hold of the key? Are Will’s doubts about this couple actually all in his head? Is it just that he can’t come to terms with how his ex-wife has decided to cope with the tragic loss of their son? The star for me was Michiel Huisman’s David though. If Will has any right to be concerned it is because of the manner of his host.

Unfortunately I really struggled to appreciate much of the things this film had going for it as I just couldn’t get past the really poor characterisation. There isn’t anybody in this film that talks or feels like a real person. The dialogue is really unnatural, and the behaviour of characters completely just plain weird. A guy reacts to being slapped out of the blue to getting another bite to eat. There is a scene where the hosts show their guests a seriously inappropriate video clip on a laptop that should have everyone going to get their coats. But no, there are a few shocked faces and then go to get more of the posh wine they can’t stop talking about. I just couldn’t get over how nobody I know talks or acts like this, and although I get that the tone is supposed to be a little off, when there isn’t one character you can relate to its easy to lose interest. That happened for me when I watched this, and I found myself coasting through much of the second half. It was only when I began to look retrospectively and put the characterisation to one side, that I appreciated the originality of the story and what they were trying to do. Unfortunately that isn’t enough for me and it ends up as a missed opportunity. Although I’m tempted to give it another go some time, for now all I think about is a houseful of poorly written weirdos I wouldn’t want anything to do with in real life.


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