Kerry and I saw The Invitation last night. As per my custom, I went into the screening without knowing anything at all about the film. I was vaguely aware that it was to be a scary film, but beyond that- no idea. If the trailer spoils anything for the film, I couldn’t tell you, but I’ll try to avoid doing any of it myself.
The story starts off with a real strong psychological lean. Our protagonist experienced a, as of yet, unspecified, but strongly implied trauma and has been or is now crazy and damaged for it. The story leaves many things vague and does not do exposition beyond what the minimum specificity for plot, and that makes the movie much, much better.
Before I saw anymore about the movie itself, this was one of the rare movies that the viewing was strongly enhanced by the social environment that I saw it. As usual, we went to the Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester. Before their screenings, they show videos they they find and choose based on the film about to be view. A couple found their seats at the beginning of EVERYTHINGISTERRIBLE’s five minute video of edited Jim Bakker’s show selling buckets of dehydrated food to people for the soon-to-come collapse of society. Take a minute to take in some of the video, if you can. It’s weird footage in edited, but it’s cranked up a notch with the touch ups. However, the couple that came in to sit at the beginning of this video asked their server if “this was really happening”. The server laughed the question off, but the patron insisted and after several go around a the server had to speak in no uncertain terms that no, the Alamo Drafthouse was not trying to sell end of the world buckets to their customers.
The Drafthouse then followed it up with a video from HowToBasic, which I didn’t know which of the videos it was, so I’ll just give you a link to the How To Make a McFlurry, which is close enough. There are too many videos for me to try to figure out which one it was. The confused lady found this to be far more to her liking and found it hilarious.
We had a neighbor who was strangely very enthusiastic about the movie.
And then during the movie there was a pair that, seemingly, stormed out suddenly in protest of the film. The one returned to get something forgotten. Then returned again to finish a beer. Then left for a final time calling out, “Good night everybody,” to the theatre. Which is strange enough, but also violates The First and Second Rule of Alamo Drafthouse: You don’t talk in Alamo Drafthouse.
But that stuff aside, the film was solid, I really enjoyed it. However, it doesn’t bring any new tricks to cinema. It’s a story we’ve seen before using plot mechanics that are tried and true, but the film is executed so well, that it makes it, somehow, better for using those well-worn ruts. Sort of like John Wick. You saw that film a dozen times before you saw it titled John Wick, but it was great. Sort of like going to see a magician, and he pulls rabbits out of hats, saws women in half, or pulls a nickel out of a kid’s ear, but does it so well that it makes what was old new again.
The final shot of the film also feels like a classic 90’s era horror ending, which I also appreciated.
Finally, the filmmakers do give some thematic references to the Manson Family murders, Jonestown, and the Heaven’s Gate cult. And all the while, you’re spending the film wondering if the protagonist is crazy, is not crazy, or is crazy, but is right his suspicions. After all, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean their not after you.
Go see this film.