The Invitation

A word-of-mouth sleeper hit in 2016, Karyn Kusama’s thriller is a chamber piece that pulls the age-old trick of trying to make you identify with one character among many before playfully forcing you to question his reliability and mental state for the next hour or so. The story involves a dinner party from hell, a divorced couple, their friends and new partners, some troubling memories, lingering grief and a healthy dose of weirdos who are linked to a cult. Kusama is certainly adept at slowly building tension, but I was disappointed with the way that its well-judged awkwardness and mystery is eventually jettisoned for an ending that seemed mindless and overly familiar. Still, the early part of the film is pretty good. (***)