According to most people (on the internet, which is where most people live now), 2016 was horrific. It was a year in which we lost some of our best and brightest artists, a year in which we elected a president who will, according to Kate McKinnon’s Hilary Clinton, “kill us all,” and it was a year in which many blockbusters fulfilled the “bust” end of that promise. Despite all of this, 2016 delivered some truly remarkable films; because of all of this, we needed them.
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.
Fantastic Fest’s annual programming offers some of the most exciting genre films from around the world, and every year there are a few horror films which stand out among the rest, inevitably landing on year-end top 10 horror lists when they eventually hit theaters. Fantastic Fest 2014 brought us The Babadook and It Follows, two of the greatest horror films of the past year, and this year’s festival is no exception with intensely great offerings like The Witch, The Devil’s Candy, Crimson Peak, February, The Invitation and more.