The Invitation (2015)
Logan Marshall-Green (some may remember him from Prometheus) stars as Will, a man invited to a dinner party by his ex-wife, Eden, and her new partner. Amongst other guests are their shared friends and two new additons his ex met on holiday in Mexico. There’s a harrowing sub-plot as to why Will is no longer married but that’s not let on early.
Gosh, this a tense picture. From the awkward prologue in which a couple run over a coyote on a hillside there’s a a seat-shifting awkwardness to the proceedings which doesn’t let up. In that way, you can draw parallels with Joel Edgerton’s THE GIFT (2015) although this movie is more straightforward in terms of narrative.
Giving out too much information before you see the film will diminish what is a rare occurrence these days – a thriller which slowly but surely walks up your spine. This is one of the most suspenseful films I have seen in years. The reason the gambit works is that it feels so realistic and although I am quite sure many will find its tortoise-like pacing arresting, stick with it because there is a quick-fired payoff in the final 15 minutes.
With quite a few red herrings; long dialogue sequences of debate and one completely stand-out set piece, the film feels like an inverted cocktail of Hitchcock’s SUSPICION, 12 ANGRY MEN and something out of a Stephen King short story. Technically there’s some glorious photography and set-design, showing just how the rich elite in the Hollywood hills can live but it’s the completely believable cast and torturing score which propel it over the finish line. I’d single out Michael Huisman who plays Eden’s partner David as one of the charmingly creepiest guys I have seen on screen in a long while.
The one drawback is that when the twist does come, it’s not as unpredictable as earlier parts of the movie where Marshall-Green’s paranoid performance is sufficient to sow the seeds of doubt in the mind of the audience. But I am picking holes in a B-movie picture which kicks the socks off 95% of the thrillers put out by the major studios.
Cool, unnervingly realistic and solidly gripping from start to finish. I don’t know what more you can expect from an independent thriller.
NB: The film is available on Netflix in the UK at the moment.
Hotdog rating: 8/10