More than action, more than horror, more than a heartfelt Christmas movie in December, a drama during Oscar season and , yes, sometimes even more than a . . . Marvel movie (please don’t tell Kevin Fiege I said that) the one type of movie that has a nerve pinching, melodic heart racing, desperate grasp on my attention is a slow burn sinister thriller. For me there is nothing like a movie with true sinister undertones that reveal a third act so deeply disturbing that I never want to watch the movie again, yet think about it all the time.
There have been few that have done this to me; growing up watching R-rated movies as a child, I was never restricted to any film that the rest of my family was watching. Has this numbed me to any horror movie I ever watch? Yep! I’m that annoying person who walks through the haunted house attraction with a bored look on my face because no matter how much corn syrup is dripping from your plastic butcher knife, I know it’s fake.
Am I not the easiest person to startle? Well that’s more so-so depending on the situation – a hidden jump scare won’t do much to me, but show me a kitchen bench with a coffee stain or someone cough into their hands and then touch the door handle that I need to open and you will see me start to truly freak out. It takes a truly disconcerting film to make me feel scared, not from shock kills or large weapons, but the twisted psychology of a person able to compartmentalise their better judgement to commit such sick acts for their beliefs. For me, that movie is The Invitation.
The burn is definitely slow in this one, but the subtle clues laid out in a beautifully intrinsic pattern, much like a rich chili chocolate, makes for a satisfying burn. Apprehensively arriving to a long overdue get-together, a group of old friends expect to heal old wounds and start anew. Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is reluctant to attend, and after instinctively picking up on a sense of danger feels the need to leave, however against his better judgment (and for the benefit of a ninety minute run time), decides to stay.
A well executed third act twist only works when the entire story has been steadily building up to it, and The Invitation delivers. The entire time you question whether there is any danger at all, if the emotional turmoil of a past tragedy has jaded Will into questioning any and all motivations. Is he correct in trusting his instincts, or are those the same instincts that allowed for such heartbreak to occur in the past? It is through his eyes that we also attend the dinner party, simmer in tension around the table, and react in a similar manner to outlandish proclamations and actions.
The Invitation invites its audience to attend a feast for the eyes and imparts on them a delicious yet disturbing theme of the lengths some go to in order to move on, and in the name of their beliefs.
4 and a 1/2 out of 5 stars