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Carlos Prime [Celluloid 10.01.15] thriller drama mystery

As the sun sinks below the canyons, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) are en route to a dinner party. Hosted by Will’s ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new boyfriend, it’s been a long and awkward train running to get to this point of comfort in their relationship- or lack of one. All of their old friends show up, having not seen each other in two years. The details of the tragic circumstances that pulled Will and Eden apart from everyone else (and each other) eke themselves into difficult conversations throughout the night.

Something’s very different about Eden and her new beau; overly-friendly at times and easily offended at others. Will is struggling to pinpoint exactly what the reason for the soiree might be. After asking some questions, snooping around, and jumping to conclusions, he might have an idea as to what bizarre situation he’s been placed in. Or perhaps it’s another mistake to add to the list of regrets in his life.

This one’s a slow burn and mysterious vibes put a full stop on some scenes, creating palpable tension and tongue-tied characters. It starts out with typical party tropes everybody’s seen in real life: the booze hound, the spouse-dodger, the overly-flirtatious wacko. Even if you’ve never been to a party in an L.A. mansion, something just tells you they all start out like this film. And if you don’t already hate L.A., this film will fix that for you.

Director Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, Aeon Flux) spins an intricate tale of stereotypes, desperation, and dealing with grief in The Invitation. So much of the film is based on the poor decisions made by the arrogant, oblivious, and easy-to-impress wealthy crowd that populates the city. You can’t help but find something you dislike or even hate about the majority of the characters from early on. From the fragile Eden’s emotional dismissal to party animal Sadie (Lindsay Burdge) being relentless in her sexuality past the point of annoyance- this party just isn’t big enough for everyone’s egos.

Deception and self-importance keep the story moving and constantly developing, if only in minute puzzle pieces. Eerily-lit and incredibly well-performed, The Invitation is a strong mystery film that basks in its own mountains of crazy.

If L. Ron Hubbard co-wrote the party scene from Swingers with Marshall Applewhite.

Recommended Release: Baghead

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