Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Invitation (2016)

24 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!

Sure, Tanner. Don’t analyze “The VVitch” because it scares the hell out of you. But “The Invitation?” No problem at all. Let’s just do it…

First, an excerpt from my review: “It requires a lot of patience and attention to get to where “The Invitation” ultimately builds up to, and I’ll admit my patience was tried a little with each possible answer they could give us to rising questions (without giving us the actual answers most of the time). But somehow, I knew the answer wouldn’t be as rational as characters would like Will to believe (or the audience to believe, for that matter), so I stayed with it, wondering what would happen, when it would happen, and how it would happen. And as much as I would love to talk about the back half of the film, when everything in the story goes to hell, I will leave it for you to discover, because believe me…it is worth it.”

Screw it, I’m gonna talk about the ending of “The Invitation” now. So, SPOILER ALERT and all that. Here goes…

All throughout the film, there are talks about how pain is optional and can easily be taken away. The hosts of this dinner party are part of a cult that two other guests (whom the others never met before) also belong to. They claim this isn’t a conversion, but it sure feels like one, especially when they bring up uncomfortable subjects that are obviously brought on by the cult’s teachings. They even show a video about the cult which features an onscreen death. But it’s no big deal, they say, because the person’s pain went away with her–but the guests are unnerved, because it’s A FREAKING DEATH ON-CAMERA!

Will (Logan Marshall-Green) is worried the more the night goes on, but when he addresses concerns, there’s always someone there to make them unwarranted. One of the party hosts, Will’s ex-wife Eden, seems happier now that she’s part of the cult, which itself is strange considering the emotional wreck she became after something terrible happened with their son. (But even she has her moments, such as when one of the guests labels her new philosophy about pain as “bullshit” and she slaps him harder than I’ve seen anyone slap anyone even in a comedic film.)

Will has pain inside him because of the incident, and he’s learning to control it and not let it define him or drive him insane. He seems to have a nice relationship with Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), who helps him keep his feet on the ground, so it can be argued he’s doing much better than Eden…that is, until the climax, in which it’s painfully clear that she just could not take living with her pain anymore and wanted to take everyone with her…

That brings us to the finale, in which the hosts propose a toast. Even though Will has been proven wrong and was chewed out for his suspicions, he still believes something is terribly wrong. He snaps and takes everyone’s glasses of wine and breaks them all, shouting “DON’T DRINK IT!” Of course, people are arguing with him again, so this might be just another one of those things in which he’s not going to come out looking good…and then one of the cult members attacks! “You’ve ruined it!” she exclaims before lunging at him and scratching him crazily.

This chick was already seen as crazy before (walking around the house naked, for example), so it may not be anything to prove Will was right…but then, it turns out Gina (Michelle Krusiec) has collapsed and died, having drank the wine. Will was right. The wine was poisoned and everyone was meant to drink it and die. The hosts, the guests, everybody–this whole night was not meant to be a conversion for the cult; instead, it was meant to be a mass suicide (or, actually, a mass homicide, since only four of these people were willing to die and they gave the others false pretenses).

This is when everything goes to total sh*t, with the apparent Plan B being to attack and kill all of the guests that resist (so, when we think one of the guests left the party early to go home…I don’t think she’s alive anymore). Thus, we now have a fight to survive, as Will, Kira, and everyone else tries to find a way out of the locked-up mansion before it’s too late. This is what the film was building up to, and by God, did it deliver the goods. This is one tense thrill ride with a ton of suspense and even a lot of drama, when Eden realizes everything she’s done has been for nothing, despite her new husband David reassuring her that they’re doing this for a good cause (to free people of pain…by killing them…).

And then, after Will and Kira and Tommy (Mike Doyle) survive and make it outside, we get…one of the most disturbing final shots I’ve ever seen in any movie! You see, earlier, Will noticed a red lantern hanging over the front of the house, which seemed odd. But now, he and Kira look over the Hollywood Hills and find that there are SEVERAL red lanterns lit at various different houses. Los Angeles is in chaos, with helicopters roaring and sirens escalating. What does this mean? It means that this was not an isolated incident. Other cult members must have been in on the same plan Eden and David tried to pull off, making this a night of death…

That…is incredibly disturbing.

And it made the film all the more memorable and scary. Just when I thought I was getting tired of the buildup “The Invitation” was giving me, it gave me one hell of a payoff that I will never, ever forget.

One Response to “Looking Back at 2010s Films: The Invitation (2016)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Prepping for My Top 20 Films of the 2010s | Smith's Verdict - November 26, 2019

    […] “The Gift,” “Gerald’s Game,” “It Follows,” “The Invitation,” “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” “10 Cloverfield Lane,” “Super Dark […]

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