Let’s face it; probably about half of the horror films that have been released within the last couple of years have had moviegoers leaving the theater disappointment. However, based on very promising reviews after its 2015 premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, it seems as though on Friday, April 8th, Karyn Kusama’s horror-thriller The Invitation may break this cycle. Finally; we have a film that just may be a horror movie fanatic’s saving grace, as it has been called a “genuinely unnerving experience” and has been predicted to give audiences “one of the scariest times [they’ll] have in a theater this decade.”
The Invitation—co-written by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay—features the talented and diverse cast of Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones, The Age of Adaline), Emayatzy Cornealdi (Middle of Nowhere, Miles Ahead), Lindsay Burdge (A Teacher, 6 Years) and the stars of the film, Logan Marshall-Green Law and Order, The O.C.) and (Tammy Blanchard (Moneyball, Into the Woods)
The disturbance begins early in Invitation, as Will (Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Corinealdi) have to make an unpleasant, unscheduled stop while driving to the Hollywood Hills home that Will used to share with his ex-wife Eden (Blanchard), who he permanently separated from after a tragic event. Now, after at least two years since Will has seen Eden or many of their old friends, Eden has called on them to reunite for a dinner party.
After arriving at Eden’s home, it appears to Will that his ex-wife seems to have completely moved past the trauma, now living with her new husband David (Huisman). Will on the other hand, is clearly not over his grief, which is exacerbated by being back in his old house. He becomes troubled by more than painful experiences, as something seems off about the gathering and the guests. Soon after the party beings, Will and Kira find the host couple’s and the other partygoers’ behavior suspicious, though only in small ways at first. However, as the night goes on, Will and Kira come to believe that Eden and David have sinister intentions for their guests after the conversation at dinner turns to a group called The Invitation that David, Eden and some of the other attendees have recently joined, and which they claim “has changed their lives.”
The Invitation received a critics score of 90 per cent out of 100 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and a “want to see” score of 92 per cent. The site also shows critics’ reviews and comments on the film, and a large portion of these reviews and comments are positive ones. For example, Chief Film Critic at Variety, Justin Chang, calls the film “well-acted, beautifully modulated exercise [and a] “teasingly effective thriller [that builds] a remarkable level of tension.” In addition to the film itself, Chang praises Kusama, calling Invitation her “strongest work in years,” as it reveals the director’s “assurance of tone, craft and purpose.”
Writer at Fangoria, Michael Gingold, says The Invitation “is a slow burner that takes its time to getting to the horrific goods,” although he insists that “the trip is compelling from frame one and proceeds with unerring unease right down to its perfectly judged, powerfully suggestive final shot.”
Therefore, it seems probable that the long wait for a horror film that is brilliantly crafted, well-performed and well…scary…is finally over. Be sure to see The Invited this Friday, April 8th; it may be the first time in a while that you leave the movie theater not only satisfied, but blown away.