Few contemporary horror movies fill you with a fear of the unknown. Not the unknowns of life but the unknowns of trust, the unknowns in the comforts and trappings of the everyday, the unknowns of things that should function normally but don’t function normally. That is The Invitation—and it is easily the best horror movie of 2016.
The film is about a man played by a scruffy Logan Marshall-Green attending a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills. And that’s all I can tell you. It’s a movie that plays with all the norms of life in 2016, especially for yuppie young adults and adults who enjoy a glass of wine or five while sharing food with friends. This is something that is normal, almost everyday in the life of urbanites. The dinner party is the party. But what if the dinner party was a lot more than that? What if you were the odd one out at the party? That is The Invitation.
The movie is much more than that too and, without spoiling anything, it’s the type of horror film you present to people who say, “I don’t like horror movies!” It’s not that it is scary (It is.) and it’s not that it’s smart (It is.) but it’s just such a unique, taut, tense experience that is so close to the everyday of all of us. It’s a film based on experience of the known with the unknown added in, the confusion that everything is going normally or isn’t or is—but how do you know? It’s also the type of film that skewers the Los Angeles experience, the type of movie that is unique to a city that thrives on oddity and luxury, from rich hippies and diverse friend groups. Again: the movie is the type of construction based in an urban reality that is very, very real.
Moreover, it’s the work of female director Karyn Kusama, who has a long history in both female centric film, queerness, and horror. She is well equipped to handle an odd horror movie and handle it she does. She creates an extended scene of reality that you watch all knotted up, with the feeling that someone or something is going to come up behind you and place a hand on your shoulder. This isn’t the type of movie where you’re scared to open the shower curtain but you’re scared to look around your own apartment because you might find yourself there, an extra from the movie.
For horror fans, this movie is a gem as it subverts so many norms of the genre. For non-horror fans and general fans of film, this movie is a wild ride. No, you do not need to have lived in Los Angeles or have gone to a fancy dinner party to “get it” but that does help. This is a must see film of the moment, the type of movie that will be chattered about between friends and grow and grow into a cultural phenomena. Get in on it early and stream it now on iTunes. You don’t want to be the last to know about this.