Monday, June 6, 2016
Will and Kira are invited to a dinner party by Will's ex-wife Eden and her new husband David. It's been two years since they've seen each other, so awkwardness is expected. What is unexpected is their newfound happiness and serenity with New Age ideals about pain and death. Will suffers as he relives painful memories wandering the same house where his and Eden's son died and where Eden attempted suicide. Are Eden, David, and their odd friends simply enamored with a new way to manage their pain or are they dangerous?
The Invitation is a cult that claims to rewire the brain so grief and death are easier to process and a natural part of life that Eden, Will, and their weird friends Pruitt and Sadie. This sounds basically harmless if a bit odd. A few things lend a sinister undercurrent to the awkward gathering: the mindless happiness of its followers, the violence with which the followers react to the smallest scorn or opposition, the video of the group assisting a woman committing suicide, and the accounts of some of the members. Throughout the film, there's a strong case for either side: the cult is sinister and violent or the cult is weird but relatively harmless. The same goes for Will. At times, he's reasonable and clear headed, but sometimes he's overcome by grief and lashes out, giving his perspective that there's something wrong an irrational undercurrent. The film does a wonderful job building the suspense and keeping the viewers guessing.
I had a few problems with the film. While much of the party held unease and awkward moments, I found them to be drawn out and boring at times. In one particular scene. Pruitt shares his tragic story that involves him killing his wife by accident and everyone is pretty horrified. Clare right afterward wants to leave and Priutt accompanies her out because he's blocking her car in the driveway. No one thinks to protest or say anything after this man just admitted to committing murder and then wants to be alone with someone. The ending is only predictable because it's a horror film and wouldn't be very horrific if Will was wrong. The events are shocking even though I saw them coming plus the ending holds something even more surprising. Overall, it's an enjoyable film with unexpected moments and masterful suspense.
My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins