'Tis the season for all things creepy, and with Halloween being right around the corner, I'd like to share a few words about "The Invitation." Released in 2015 and directed by Karyn Kusama, “The Invitation" is a highly creepy suspense film that I have been recommending to everyone I know because it is so rare that I am riveted by a modern scary movie. Logan Marshall-Green plays Will, a man attending a dinner party at the home of his ex-wife, Eden. Eden, played by Tammy Blanchard, and her new husband have been away and have invited a close-knit group of their mutual friends to catch up over a great meal. Will even brings his girlfriend, played by Emayatzy Coriealdi, for support, and they both seem pretty steady going in (despite a grisly incident with a deer they hit on the way that sets a forbidding tone for the viewer). But even though everyone else seems to be having a grand time at the dinner party, Will is uneasy, sensing an undercurrent of something dangerous with all the locked doors, inaccessible cell phone service, and two peculiar new friends also in attendance. Is he just being paranoid? Resentful about his ex-wife’s newfound happiness? Or is there really some kind of dark plot afoot?
The bulk of the film is trying to figure out exactly what’s happening or, more precisely, whether anything troubling is happening at all. The movies I find truly frightening are the ones involving real people experiencing things that could happen in real life. Real people dealing with really crazy people. Not zombies, not aliens, not monsters or vampires, not ghosts or demons, but actual disturbed people living among us. That’s not a knock on those sub-genres; I can name favorites from all of them, from “28 Days Later” to “The Exorcist” to “Alien.” But real people in everyday circumstances are the ones who instill fear. “The Invitation” puts you among people you might like to hang out with, but it keeps you off-balance with things that could be nothing but also could be the end of everything.