The Invitation ★★★★½

88/100

A story of distance fed through the impenetrable barrier of grief. LA is seen as a glowing mirage within a hazy landscape, and the hills appear seductive, even flirtatious, in the face of looming modernity. It is where the damaged and the fearful, the deranged and the affected choose to reside, literal detachment encasing their unease. Karyn Kusama builds an entire universe - people as planets and spaces as mysterious areas of darkness and unknown conversations - so that the eventual horror unravels organically, all a singular puzzle although each piece is utterly fractured. And Will - played by a terrific Logan Marshall Green - is the audience surrogate, spinning around uncertain friends and foes in a woozy state, forever lost to the past and its lingering power. All of the dynamics between the players are immediate - an disorganized group of personalities which never rise to Will's level of paranoia - but intended by design, especially as the formal elements shift from graceful movements to disconcerting shakiness. Even the "twisty" story is hardly a revelation, but Kusama subverts typical genre outcomes with grade-A elegance and eventual hostility. Up there with The Thing, Clue, and the thrillers of Jaume Collet-Serra in terms of evoking environment and bodies in separate spaces, with interior collisions and confrontations being just as evil as the intricacies of human nature.

John Carroll Lynch is one of the greats, btw.

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