• by Wes Singleton

Review: The Invitation, B

Unrated, 100 minutes

The creepy, unsettling new psychological horror film "The Invitation" will make you think twice about accepting that dinner party invite from that second-tier friend you don't know very well. From director Karyn Kusama of "Jennifer's Body" and "Girlfight," this is her most accomplished film to date, and she's effective at building tension throughout this unusual, slow moving film. Will (Logan Marshall-Green) shows up to his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and new husband, David's (Michiel Huisman) dinner party, though he, along with the other guests, have not seen them for two years. The pair's tragic past haunts an equally spooky present: amid Eden's suspicious behavior and her mysterious house guests, Will becomes convinced that his invitation has a hidden agenda. Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (writers of the those "Ride Along" comedies of all things), "The Invitation" is a uber-creepy, disturbing house-bound, dinner-party movie that has a few layers of psychological statements about grief, loss and depression after life-altering events, while also an intense tale about the hidden reach of cults and religious movements. Marshall-Green, Huisman and especially a weird Blanchard are all solid in the lead roles, and there are many nice touches to this unsettling movie that outweigh its flaws - the locked doors, that strange suicide video and of course the wine - but it's also not perfect, given it's nothing exactly revelatory with its psycho babble (all the talk about forgiveness and being "set free" is so basic), and the plodding second act, where they drink, talk and drink even more, makes you wonder if anything will ever happen, until it reaches the startling climax, where the real purpose of the dinner party is revealed and things move quickly and violently. It's one of those well-acted, disturbing films that's sure to get under your skin, which is more memorable than its implausible premise. "The Invitation" is an effective, dark and clever thriller that's a good watch for a Saturday night for something different.

#theinvitation #karynkusama