The Invitation (2015)

  • Gist: Several 30-something old friends gather for a dinner party in a posh home in the hills above LA, but soon things start to feel weird.
  • My Buttons: This movie pushes my buttons, and not the fun ones–social awkwardness, rich people, fake people, rich fake people, strychnine sweetness, sales reps, and religious zealots. Feels like a family reunion.
  • Tension: It’s a good build when I just want it to break, no matter what happens–no matter who is really The Thing, or if it was Just a Dream, or if all the puppies and children get eviscerated because SCREW YOU, IT’S NIHILISM! [None of those things happen in this movie. But it’s tense.]
  • Cast: Mostly unknown, and I like how that makes it feel more real, like I’m really watching some random Californians freak each other out. Lead is Logan Marshall-Green, who this year was great in the indy film Upgrade, and there’s that Dutch guy who plays Daario Naharis on GoT. One other familiar face is too creepily perfect for me to spoil.
  • Director: Karyn Kusama directs TV and modest-budget movies because no producers or studio take over and foul up the finished product, like they did to her Aeon Flux in 2005. The result is precision crafted filmmaking.

Conclusion: If you like suspense and don’t get too triggered at being cornered and evangelized or Amway-ed, get some old friends together and call each other out while tensing up with The Invitation. Available on Netflix or Amazon Prime streaming.

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