A man and his new girlfriend receive a very official invitation to a fancy dinner party at his previous home and given by his ex and her new man. There he gets to see friends he’s not seen in a long time and meet a new duo. As he suspects something is not quite right, events unfold strengthening his suspicions.
Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi and directed by Karyn Kusama, The Invitation is a super slow burn of a film that builds its characters well, the leads in particular, and establishes their relationships before throwing a wrench in the party procedures which changes how people act and interact, showing a new side to their personality until things go haywire for them and they are forced to work together. The film takes its time establishing everything and the payoff is absolutely worth the time invested. As most of the film takes place in one house with most characters present at all times, the casting is very important.
Sig De Miguel and Stephen Vincent chose the cast meticulously. This cast is led by Logan Marshall-Green as Will, the man who receives the titular invitation. He gives a captivating performance as a man who is conflicted by his instincts and the care he still has for his ex. He shows this clearly and adds a touch of possible paranoia to create a layered character the viewer cares about. As his possibly crazy Eden, actress Tammy Blanchard is stunning and nuanced. She makes the viewer care like Will, even when she does rather insane things. The rest of the cast is also talented and invested in their characters with Emayatzy Corinealdi and Lindsay Burdge both shining as Kira, Will’s girlfriend, and Sadie, the unknown woman having joined the group, respectively.
The use of one house as the location for most of the film works to The Invitation’s advantage, setting a cozy, warm, homey feeling at first and slowly turning this into a claustrophobic feeling as the story advances. This ambiance is partially created in the way the shots are framed by cinematographer Bobby Shore. The closing shot is beautiful with a tinge of eeriness, which emphasizes the whole mood of the film.
The effects in this film are minimal as the creep-factor and the suspense comes from the ambiance, actions, and what is said and not said. That being said, the special effects done under coordinator Ryan Jenkins supervision and the visual effects done under supervisors Greg M. Silverman and Tim LeDoux add just the right extra little something, creating effects that fit in the film seamlessly.
The Invitation is a slow burn suspense/thriller that takes its time building its characters and their relationships until the perfect time to rattle everything and create a satisfying result to all the building up. Its final shot adds an extra layer of bang for their buck.