KARYN Kusama’s thriller The Invitation begins with the mercy killing of a run-over coyote. A violent welcome from a film that revels in our uneasiness – although it spends the next 70 minutes or so provoking it through suspicious glances rather than blunt blows to the head.
Kusama’s film invites us to a dinner party hosted by couple Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and David (Michiel Huisman). Among the guests is Tammy’s ex-husband Will (Logan Marshall-Green) whose perspective Kusama follows closely as he starts to sense something more sinister simmering beneath the niceties of the party.
Will’s surging and isolating suspicion is not eased by an introduction to David and Eden’s positivity cult. Nor the presence of their friends Pruitt (John Carroll Lynch), an imposing figure who looks awkwardly out of place, and Sadie (Lindsay Burdge) – an unsubtle femme fatale. Is something up or is it just in Will’s head? Allusions to his tragic past with Eden make the latter a possibility.
The less said about this film the better. The unspoken tensions of The Invitation are half of its fun.
The Invitation is a film well worth sticking with. If you are able to stay through the slow-cooking meat of the film, you will be rewarded with a deliciously shocking finale. One that throws the subtly and politeness – including that of Kusama’s reserved camera-style – completely off the table.
The Invitation? RSVP: Yes.
This was review 25/30 in April’s Close-up Culture Monthly Film Challenge – Female Filmmakers.