When I sit back today and think about the experience that I had attending film school and the classes that I took, a few really pop-out in my mind. One on women in horror films, one on westerns, and one on David Lynch.
While all of these classes served a purpose to my overall understanding of film theory, there is one that still sticks in my mind as being different. When I explain to people that I took a sixteen week class that was solely based on dissecting scripts that would ultimately be directed by Karyn Kusama they would give me the strangest look.
The thing is with Kusama is that she often picks up scripts written by different writers and turns them into something completely different than what was penned on the page.
Would you be surprised if I told you that Jennifer’s Body which was written by Diablo Cody was actually a well-done and an interesting satire on mid-2000s’ youth culture.
When I finally sat down to revisit the film for the first time after reading the script I still thought in my mind “what went wrong?”
Is Jennifer’s Body a horrible film? Not even close, but it is hard to not notice that Kusama may not have had complete control over what was happening.
This is why I always give her films a bit of credit because in just about every single one of them, she has been slapped with the shitty reality of mainstream Hollywood and would get slammed because of it.
So, when I heard that Kusama’s newest flick was once again going to be penned by someone else I was a bit nervous. Would we ultimately see a similar sight where her vision is hurt by the higher ups or flow with her own unique style?
Well, I am happy to report that The Invitation finally brings Kusama back into the spotlight. You can really see her shine as a director for the first time since 2000’s Girlfight.
The film follows Will (Logan Marshall-Green), and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) as they attend a dinner-party hosted by Will’s ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman).
As they arrive to the dinner party they are soon joined by a group of Will and Eden’s friends that they haven’t seen since they broke-up two years prior. It is here that they are also introduced to a pair of Eden and Will’s new friends, and this is where the film unfortunately turns into a predictability fest as we understand what Eden and David’s intentions are towards their old friends.
Is this plot predictability the worse part of the film? Sure, but isn’t most films that we watch today have some sort of predictability? Why did Ti West’s film The Sacrament make such a splash in the horror community a few years ago? Wasn’t it the same story of Jonestown? Of course, but it is because of strong performances and good directing that the film stands strong.
This is the case with The Invitation, but the film follows a similar suite with good acting and direction by Kusama.
We hardly ever see the group of nine having conversations together, instead Kusuma is able to piece together small conversations with different members of the group that leads to a satisfying and compelling climax towards the end of the film.
It is during these smaller conversations that we truly learn who Will is as a character. Why does he feel all this pain and suffering? What happened between himself and Eden? It isn’t force-fed to you, but instead shown through stellar use of low-lighting, acting and smart directing that I spoke about above.
Is The Invitation going to leave a huge impact in the horror community? Most likely not, but the way that Kusuma is able to flip a story that has predictability issues and turn it into a film that shines is something that she has never been able to do before. It’s because of this I have to highly recommend that you check out The Invitation because it is one hell of a ride.