The Invitation (2015, Karyn Kusama)

I have my doubts that a cult could brainwash people into cleansing their past by inviting their friends over to dinner and murdering them, but I suppose the presence of Zodiac killer John Carroll Lynch as the cult’s representative adds believability. This wasn’t quite the surprise thrill of last year’s Coherence, but it had a couple of great things (and better camerawork). Lead character Will (Logan Marshall-Green, beardy with Keanu-eyes, also of Prometheus and Devil) is nervous and somewhat traumatized to be seeing his ex Eden (Tammy Blanchard of Rabbit Hole) in their former home for the first time since their breakup after their son died, and his back-and-forth between being extremely paranoid and trying to relax provides most of the movie’s tension. He recognizes something feels wrong and essentially predicts the cult-murder but social propriety keeps calming his reactions. And of course I love an apocalyptic ending and this movie (again, however unrealistically) provides one beautifully with a simple image, red lantern lights dotting the surrounding hills.

Watched this after reading an interview with director Kusama and realizing that the trash-heap final version of Aeon Flux wasn’t all her fault. All is now forgiven. Surprisingly the writers of that disaster (also R.I.P.D. and Clash of the Titans) did this one as well. Also in the cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi (Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere) as Will’s new girlfriend, and Michiel Huisman (Treme) as Eden’s party cohost.

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