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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Invitation Review: Cheap Wine. Fancy Bottle.

!! Quick thing, this review spoils the reveal and I hack it's framework to pieces. If you want to see it, don't read anything about it. It's much better that way. !!

"All right, who the F**K ate the last crab cake?!"

They say they don't make movies for adults anymore. The highest grossing films of the year used to be war epics, romantic comedies, and lethal weapons. No more. It's all superheros and CGI animated fare. Not that I have a problem with that. In fact, I'll even go to the mat for Age of Ultron. But it does seem like people are starved for an old fashioned thriller. So much so that I find myself in the rare position of wanting to rain on someone else's good word of mouth.

Because I don't think The Invitation didn't live up to it's hype. I'm shocked it has any real hype at all!  For the first time in a long time, I'm looking at a 89% on rotten tomatoes completely mystified. Or rather, I don't think I saw the movie everyone else did. Reading the comment sections at Birth Movies Death, you'd think we have a new Hitchcock on our hands. Jesus Lord is that not the case.

"Remember me? I replaced that one guy in Game of Thrones and I'm really good on Orphan Black?"

If you are at ALL familiar with what I choose to call the "ulterior motive dinner party" sub genre, you're gonna see every clue and red herring coming miles away. Like the wine. Every time a character gets their wine refilled they check it in the script. "More... WINE?" I seem to remember a character asking another. It's sloppy. So sloppy. If the wine pouring was something that happened while the characters were speaking dialogue worth hearing, maybe a fun anecdote or a small amount of character development, that would be fine. But a lot of the conversations with anyone outside of the main cast never evolves from "Hey! We were friends remember? Been a long time... yes I would like some wine." This tells us that the wine is either poison or will be poison and nothing else. Guess what? It's one of those two things.

That brings me to my single biggest problem. That nothing happens for what feels like hours and the shit that does happen was exactly what I expected. It tries it's hardest to drum up paranoia by suggesting Will (the main character) may be too obsessed over the tragedy preceding his divorce to see his ex's new life clearly. What kills me is that the red herring explanation would have been a vastly superior movie. If you're gunning for crazy in a thriller... make sure the logical explanation isn't more interesting than cult activity.

Sooooo bored.

Yeesh. I'm a bit testy today. This is a decent movie, don't get me wrong. Flat friend characters aside, the cast is peppered by a few great performances. John Carrol Lynch in particular has a monologue halfway through that's as eerie as all hell and Lindsay Burdge does a great job with a girl who lives in the house that's kinda... feral. It could have easily been overdone and I appreciate her restraint for most of the film.

But yeah, 15 minutes in I called crazy murder cult. It took 40 more to prove me right.What followed was luke-warm slasher material at best. If you spend an hour and a half building up a murder cult you better bring it. It doesn't.

 I'm normally not the guy to poke holes but The Invitation is so in love with it's admittedly scrumptious cinematography that it never gave it's corny script at least one of the multiple rewrites it desperately needed.

It's a smart movie. Just not as smart as it thinks it is.

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