For Reel

The Invitation (2015)
June 11, 2016, 2:24 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Karyn Kusama
4.5 Stars
The InvitationThis slow-burn thriller casts a spell of doubt on its audience from the very beginning. Perhaps the most problematic obstacle for the viewer to feel comfortably immersed in the environment is that the protagonist, played with wonderful ambiguity by Logan Marshall-Green, might not be the most reliable narrator. He’s emotionally detached and quiet—more skeptical of his hosts than grateful, which becomes a trait the viewer only eventually comes to applaud as the events of the dinner party get more off-putting. For much of its running time, The Invitation does a great job of setting a tone of unease without doing anything particularly shocking. The red flags are so subtle that one would likely dismiss them in the context of a dinner party, where often things go unmentioned in the name of manners and civility. It’s the perfect setting to tell a story about grief and loss—Green’s very inability to participate in the rouse of dinner party behavior makes him an outcast, even if he might be the truest to his own emotions than anyone in the house (which, in a way, makes him the least dangerous). The Invitation‘s third act is serviceable if not exceptional, but things continue to spiral logically enough so as not to break the spell of immersion. But the first hour—awkward niceties offset by the occasional chord of unease—is a brilliant stretch of suspense and paranoia, recalling Jimmy Stewart’s growing suspicions in Rope.