Karyn Kusama is, without a doubt, one of our most exciting directors. Last year, along with writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, Kusama delivered The Invitation, an elegantly unnerving thriller and one of the best films of the year. The trio are currently working on two more feature projects, but in the meantime, Kusama directed a segment for XX, a new horror anthology film helmed entirely by women. “Her Only Living Son” closes out the anthology with a devilish drama featuring surprising thematic complexity for such a short story. As XX hits theaters this week, I spoke with Kusama about her inspirations and the disturbing element of male violence in her segment, as well as her upcoming projects — which sound so good.
Horror anthology films are all the rage these days, from the lo-fi V/H/S series to the the pair of eclectic ABCs of Death films to the recent seasonally-themed Holidays. And yet all of these films have been united by the greater theme of being almost entirely directed by men; the scary-movie genre has always been a bit of a boy’s club, with women fighting tooth and nail for success as exceptions to an archaic rule imposed by Hollywood. The upcoming film XX seeks to change that, however, offering some of of horror’s most promising young female filmmakers the chance to get behind the camera and have some twisted fun.
Karyn Kusama handily delivered one of this year’s best thrillers with The Invitation, an incredibly unnerving and masterful “horror film for grown-ups” that proves you don’t need gimmicky jump scares and supernatural creatures to create chilling atmosphere and spooky vibes. Although her most recent effort wasn’t overt horror, it looks like Kusama’s next project definitely is, as she’s attached herself to helm Breed for executive producer Scott Frank.
After a few ups and downs in Hollywood, director Karyn Kusama returns with The Invitation, an exquisitely intense and torturously intimate thriller that meditates on grief, propriety and courtesy. Starring Logan Marshall-Green, Michiel Huisman and Emayatzy Corinealdi (to name a few), the film centers on a man who takes his new girlfriend to a dinner party hosted by his ex-wife and her new beau, and it's not long before his misgivings give way to something truly unnerving. We had a chance to sit down with Kusama and co-writer Phil Hay to discuss their fantastic new film, which hits select theaters and VOD on April 8.
After being dealt some bad luck in the studio system with the underwhelming action flick Aeon Flux and the undervalued horror comedy Jennifer’s Body, director Karyn Kusama emerges with her best film since she made her feature debut with 2000's Girlfight. The Invitation is an exceptionally unnerving thriller, a sharp study in the horrors of platonic indulgence and the over-extension of courtesy.
Disclaimer: It's best to go into Karyn Kusama's The Invitation completely blind, if possible, in order to get the most out of this exquisitely unnerving thriller. But if you absolutely, positively must watch a trailer before you commit to seeing the film, then this is a pretty great preview of what's in store.
I don't like dinner parties. They make me uncomfortable. I’m not great at meeting new people; I’m terrible at remembering names, and I’m a really bad conversationalist when I don’t have a shared language like movies or comics to fall back on. So even before the actual horror, The Invitation is already my nightmare. A dinner party where a guy has to endure an evening with his ex-wife, her new husband and all her friends? And then you mix in some serious scares? Yeah, no thank you. I’d like to sleep again at some point this century.
It's hard to steer a career right after some studio failures, but it looks like Karyn Kusama is going back to the indie world that launched her with 'Girlfight.' She's directing 'The Rut' and has Chloe Grace Moretz and Jeffery Dean Morgan already in, but it looks like she's going to be adding Goodfella Ray Liotta to the mix.