SXSW Film Review: The Invitation

A great cast chews into the "dinner party from hell" subgenre

It’s something everyone can relate to: You’re invited to a party you don’t really want to go to, but guilt and/or obligation compels your attendance anyway. In the new thriller from Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body), things go from awkward to downright insane over the course of a very unsettling evening.

Still depressed from a tragedy that severed his marriage two years ago, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) brings his new girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) to the posh L.A. home of his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman). David and Eden have invited a number of their friends, new and old, to a party, in an attempt to end the estrangement that occurred when Eden and Will divorced. Will, returning to his old residence, is continually haunted by past events, and his memories start interfering with the already strained party atmosphere. Add to that the likelihood that David and Eden – with their new friends Sadie (Lindsay Burdge) and Pruitt (John Carroll Lynch) – are involved in some sort of cult, and you have a pretty compelling concoction for some seriously unnerving tension.

There are a number of things that work in The Invitation: The cast is uniformly great (Tom Hardy – er, I mean Marshall-Green – is a standout, and Lynch basically has a monopoly on the creep factor at this point in his career), and the film is elegantly shot. But when the third act unfurls the film’s intentions, it feels less like a procession of startling revelations and more like a ticking off of a checklist of plot points. There are some very interesting ideas about grief, depression, and how we cope with life-changing events in this modern world, but ultimately, the film doesn’t offer anything new to the “dinner party from hell” subgenre. This is one invite you could be forgiven for declining.


The Invitation

Midnighters, World Premiere
Wednesday, March 18, 6:30pm, Stateside
BUZZ SCREENING ADDED: Thursday, March 19, 9pm, Stateside


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Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW Film, SXSW, The Invitation, Karyn Kusama, Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman

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