You might think I’m being just a tad bit corny here by referencing Dylan Thomas’ famous poem of the same name. But taken out of context, the iconic lines should have been the movie’s tagline. Do not go gentle into that good night, rage rage against the dying of the light. As far as 2016 movies go, ‘psychological thrillers set in confined spaces’ seem to be the name of the game. The Witch is a semi-horror film set around a religious family in the woods. 10 Cloverfield Lane features a captor who tells his captives that they can’t leave his basement because an apocalyptic disease has polluted the outside. Upcoming movie Green Room is about members of a punk-rock band battling murderous white supremacists at a remote Oregon roadhouse. But perhaps the The Invitation might be the most mundane of all.Or the most absurd. A group of friends re-unite at a dinner party. Psh, I mean it’s just a dinner party right? Wrong.
It’s interesting how the early movies of 2016 are going (Because they’re usually not this awesome), and if you haven’t seen The Witch, 10 Cloverfield Lane, soon-to-be-released Green Room and The Invitation, I highly suggest you do. For now, I’m gonna review this slow ride into insanity. The Invitation starts off with Will and his wife getting invited to Will’s ex-wife’s dinner party. It’s the same house they used to live in, with the same group of friends they haven’t seen in a while. But then the heat is turned up. There are sporadic moments of little fireworks and moments that become a little awkward for everyone. Throughout the growingly ominous night, it is Will who feels the most jitters. Through flashbacks of the past and a certain trauma, we get an inside scoop of just how much of a character Will is. I have to give props to the writers for nailing his deep characterization without much to work with. The camera often pans between shooting close-ups of Will and zoom-out shots of the group, often isolating Will as an individual in his social circle.
What that does to us is that it brews as much fear and paranoia in us as it has in Will. Inception’s famous tagline ‘What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea’ is even more aptly applied in this film. We are constantly being fed subjective truth in the form of Will’s experiences. And just when we’re about to say “Yup, I figured this out.”, the movie throws in narrative curveballs to destabilize our perception. Is Will delusional? Or is there really something wrong about the whole dinner? Is there a hidden agenda for the night? Or are these hosts saints behind friendly eyes? The flashbacks are relentless. The tension is absolutely terrifying.
I always admire a film that is able to make the best use of what limited resources they have. It’s obviously low-budget but it looks pretty amazing. Cinematography is on-point, delivering shot after shot of pure delirious frenzy. It’s all built up at a slow pace which I think is a measure of how patient the movie is; Very cool directing there. But I’m missing out the biggest part – The actors. Without a single noticeable face, they pull of some of the most genuine acting. Now whether their respective characters are genuine or not, that’s an entirely different story. Special mention to Logan Marshall-Green who plays Will with so much grit and emotion that I was completely lost in his performance. He looks like Tom Hardy, but I wouldn’t even trade Tom Hardy to play his role.
This film is not for the faint-hearted. To be honest, though nothing very much is going on in the first half except for some small fights and awkward get-together games between friends, the build-up itself is hot enough to put some hearts to stop. Ok I’m kidding but don’t take your grandma to this please! Tell her to watch Everybody Wants Some and relive the good ol days or something! It’s all very nicely done though because there are light-hearted moments here and there and silly banter to alleviate the tension. But then the film just builds and builds and explodes…All that tension, all that psychological torture that you vicariously share with Will, all of it is released in a rapture of madness and revelation. Is this the film of the week? I don’t know. But this is definitely your dinner of the week.