The Babadook. Goodnight, Mommy. The Witch. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The last few years have given us something of a Renaissance of thoughtful, intelligent independent horror films that rely more on ideas and artistry than splatter and jump scares. The latest film to enter that pantheon is Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, about a man (Logan Marshall-Green) attending a dinner party hosted at his old house by his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband (Michiel Huisman).
Things start out bad—the air is thick with the shared loss that drove Will and Tammy apart in the first place, though their friends and Will’s new girlfriend (EmayatzyCorinealdi) try to keep things upbeat—and get worse. The atmosphere suffuses with dread, lensed for maximum anxiety-producing effect by DP Bobby Shore and augmented by a score from Theodore Shapiro, as Will comes to believe that everything is not as it appears. More than that, I can’t say. The Invitation is a film that you really shouldn’t know much about going in. That’s by design, explains Kusama: “We were playing with the idea of multiple outcomes, multiple realities that could seem possible… The audience is sort of asked to participate in what kind of movie it is they’re watching. Are they watching a drama? Are they watching a mystery thriller? Will it become a horror film? Is it supernatural?”