THE INVITATION (2015) is one hell of a horror movie that keeps you guessing then explodes. The film begins with Will and his girlfriend Kira driving to the Hollywood Hills to the home of his ex-wife Eden, who is hosting a dinner party with her husband David. It’s a reunion of old friends after Eden disappeared for several years following the death of her and Will’s son in a freak accident, the endless grieving, her having an affair with a man she met in a support group, and the dissolution of their marriage.
Eden seems happy and finally accepting her son’s death, while Will finds it hard to be there at his old home, which for him is still haunted by memories, sorrow and guilt. It turns out Eden’s secret is that she and David joined a spiritual movement that teaches people to accept death as a portal to transcendence, which gave her peace. Their talking about the group is awkward and strikes their old friends as cultish. Will becomes angry because he cannot understand how Eden moved on so neatly from a nightmare he can never escape.
As the evening becomes fun and strange in turns, Will finds himself increasingly isolated and questioning what exactly is happening at the party. Is there something strange going on? Or is he suffering a psychotic break by visiting his past?
THE INVITATION terrifically draws its primary characters and their shared tragedy, the strangeness of the movement and its members who are at the house, Will’s paranoia, the tension building toward an awful climax. When the film explodes, everything is revealed and then some, providing an extremely striking ending. Otherwise, the action pours out in a very realistic way. The violence is horrific because it’s so believable. It’s a real punch. And it all leads to an ending that is touching and then striking.