Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman
Director: Karyn Kusama
Running Time: 100 mins
The Invitation is an American film about a man who receives an invitation to a dinner party from his ex-wife. However, after arriving, he begins to have suspicions about her true motives for inviting him, as the night turns more and more tense.
This is a really frustrating film. Despite enormous potential for piercingly eerie thrills, The Invitation comes up short with a boring and predictable story that never really kicks into gear. Director Karyn Kusama injects it with a degree of strong atmosphere, but there’s none of the horrifyingly uncomfortable drama that the film really wants to hit home.
The biggest problem with The Invitation is that it’s a little too bold. It absolutely deserves credit for going against formula – this isn’t just another dinner party gone wrong – but the issue is that so many of its biggest gambles really fall flat.
Director Karyn Kusama does her best to give the film a striking and unsettling atmosphere throughout, but it only really works at the plot’s core flashpoints. For the majority of the runtime, the film just doesn’t have that piercingly eerie vibe which could have brought it so much more suspense.
Skirting the border between cagey thriller and horror, The Invitation is actually at its best in its simpler, quieter moments. There are times when the plot, atmosphere and performances all lay on that brand of eeriness a little too heavily, yet when it all calms down a bit, the film is far more captivating.
Again, that’s the risk with being so daring. The Invitation tries to push the boundaries with something a little different, but unfortunately comes up short, making its biggest moments generally disappointing.
Also, there really isn’t a standout performance or character to grab your attention and help you connect with the fear and danger of the story. That’s a major weakness of a generally middling screenplay, but the ensemble cast also doesn’t impress enormously.
And with that, its emotional drama also falls flat. There is admittedly a lot more to The Invitation than so many horror-thrillers, but in its attempt to recreate the uncomfortable, nightmarish intensity of the likes of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, this film once again falls short, again compounding an already underwhelming experience.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed with The Invitation. A frustrating mishit that fails to capitalise on good promise, it’s a generally underwhelming and often boring watch without the depth and intensity it needs to really work.
Director Karyn Kusama injects a degree of atmosphere and excitement into the mix, but it’s too little to save what is a roundly disappointing albeit bold film, so that’s why I’m giving it a 6.2.