Director Karyn Kusama got the attention of Hollywood executives when she made her first film, Girlfight, it also launched the career of Michelle Rodriguez. But like many of other young filmmakers, Kusama made the mistake of accepting a big studio film for her sophomore project and the result was disastrous. Her second film Aeon Flux (starring Charlize Theron) was a huge disappointment, both financially and critically. Many thought Kusama’s career might be over after her third film, Jennifer’s Body, again failed to make a dent at the box office and were mostly hated by critics. The Brooklyn NY native decided to go back to her indie root for her fourth outing and it might be one of the more surprising thrillers I’ve seen in a while.
Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) arrived at a party being thrown by Will’s ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her boyfriend David (Michiel Huisman). At the party are also a bunch of Will’s and Eden’s friends whom they haven’t seen in over 2 years. Through flashbacks we learned that Will and Eden had a son and once were very happily married. Unfortunately they lost their son and Will doesn’t seem to have recovered from that tragic event. Eden on the other hand have accepted the loss and decided to move on. When Will arrived at the party and noticed that Eden looks different and happy, he seems to think something’s not right. He also doesn’t seem to trust David at all and as he catching up with his old friends, we audience also think something’s not right at this party. This is a kind of movie that’s hard to review because you need to go into it with little knowledge as possible.
The script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi keeps the audience on the edge, you feel something’s off about this party and the payoff is well worth the wait. Speaking of waiting, the movie took its time by building the suspense, you’re not sure if Will’s crazy or something bad is about to happen. Kusama did a great job of building the tension and not to give anything away too early.
The performances by the actors were very good, especially Marshall-Green whose character is still haunted by a tragic event and refuse to accept the reality of it. The rest of the cast consist of actors who’ve appeared in other films in smaller roles. One standout performance to me was John Carroll Lynch’s character that showed up later in the film and made everyone at the party very uncomfortable.
This is a film that requires your patience, it’s very creepy in tone and while the payoff wasn’t anything too surprising but it’s well made. Maybe Kusama found her calling and keeps making smaller thrillers like this down the road.
Have you seen ‘The Invitation’? Well, what did you think?