Wednesday, 13 April 2016


A perfect puzzle of paranoia, Karyn Kusama's The Invitation is a simple, straightforward psychological thriller that acknowledges its own simplicity, thus to wring every last drop of goodness from it. It's plain in its aspirations and unpretentious in its motives, and thereby a resolute success - in keeping her vision uncompromisingly direct, Kusama has made a terrific technical piece of work. She's also ensured universality through specificity, the notion that the less a filmmaker stresses a point, the more potential it has to actually make one in the minds of the viewers. Indeed, she could even have stressed it less; between herself and writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, the game is given up too soon, and too firmly. The Invitation becomes more a waiting game than a wondering one, its dangers too concrete and its characters' actions too unreasonable (the film's fantastic final image, screaming with scathing satire, might go some way toward explaining this last point). Yet for all its relative lack of mystery, compared with what could have been, there remains a sustained strain of high tension, from the first scene right up to the last, one which Kusama exploits with glee. Her technique isn't flashy, but it demonstrates a thorough comprehension of the requirements of this genre product, and her use of space and sound is ideal. She rather gets off on this tension, repeatedly intimating that the fuse has been lit and the film surely must be fit to blow, before simmering down and causing the viewer to question, ever more, the validity of our suspicions, as sure as they may once have seemed. Between this and the final shot, The Invitation's paranoia permeates the screen, penetrates the minds of those consuming it. It's a most potent drug - watch it, and you too will be taken under its influence.