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Movie Review: "The Invitation"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 4/8/2016

Theatrical Release: 4/8/2016

Synopsis

It has been a very long time since they have seen each other, but when Will (Logan Marshall-Green) receives an invitation to a dinner party from his ex-wife, he reluctantly accepts and brings his current girlfriend (Emayatzy Corinealdi) along. All of Will’s old friends will be there, mutual friends that he shared with his ex-wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard). As awkward as it may be to see his ex-wife after what happened between them, it will be good to see all of his old friends under one roof again. However, the dinner party is at the house he once shared with his ex-wife, where she currently lives with her new husband (Michiel Huisman).

Will did not anticipate the rush of emotions he would experience by stepping foot in this house once again. He also starts to notice suspicious behavior from Eden and her new husband, David. He cannot quite put a finger on what is going on, but he is the only one who seems to be picking up on their suspicious behavior. Perhaps he is just emotional and seeing signs that are not really there, but if Eden and David are up to something, then Will and his friends may have walked right into a trap.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Climax (+5pts)

The Main Character (-5pts)

Michiel Huisman (+4pts)

Boring & Weird Characters (-10pts)

John Carroll Lynch (+2pts)

The Ending (-3pts)

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Pro: The Climax (+5pts)

I will be honest, it was a long, boring road to the climax of this movie. However, once things finally started to happen, I was definitely into it. I do not want to give anything away, but if you have not seen this movie, then know the climax was always going to be one of two things. Either Will’s suspicions would be correct, or they would be incorrect.

Either way, it was always clear that a big confrontation was coming, and when it finally came, it was exciting. There were also a number of stressed out characters involved, which made for an unpredictable ending. I thought the filmmakers did a poor job with this movie, for reasons that I will get into throughout this review. One thing they got right, however, was that they delivered a strong climax that felt both intense and chaotic.

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Con: The Main Character (-5pts)

Will was an annoying main character to follow. He spent most of the movie alone, in random rooms, staring off into space. Of the time he spent with other characters, a portion of that time was spent having him zone out, so the other characters were muffled and out of focus. The guy was very much in his head, psyching himself out for most of the movie's runtime, and it made him a boring main character.

I understand the desire to make the viewer uncertain of whether or not Will was crazy. In that respect, the filmmakers succeeded. Unfortunately, their means of doing that made the main character closed off and isolated from the other characters. The result made the movie feel slow, because nothing was happening, and it also made the main character uninteresting, because he hardly did anything.

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Pro: Michiel Huisman (+4pts)

When I say that I bought into what this character was saying, I do not mean that I was getting sucked into his cult. Rather, because of the actor in the role, I believed that the character had honest and innocent intentions, at least to an extent. I was always suspicious of the character, but the convincing performance by Michiel Huisman made me doubt my suspicions. Michiel Huisman delivered his lines with a conviction and innocence that made him seem trustworthy, even though my logic was telling me he was not. My mind was telling me to be suspicious of the character because of the kind of movie I was watching, but the performance made me want to trust him anyway. Given the fact that this was a thriller, and that David was clearly the antagonist, what Michiel Huisman was able to do is no small thing. He made me doubt my gut, which was exactly what this movie needed him to do.

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Con: Boring & Weird Characters (-10pts)

By having a non-social main character who liked to stand by himself, staring and thinking, the movie felt pretty slow and uneventful. This was not helped by the fact that the characters had really nothing to do inside the house. They were just chit-chatting and hanging out, and nothing noteworthy seemed to happen. This could have even been interesting if so many of these characters were not so weird, with Eden being the weirdest. The way she talked, the things she said, and the things she did were just really weird, to an almost laughable degree. There were other weird characters, and these characters made the slow scenes feel even slower, because they were just so awkward.

Right when you thought the movie was about to start picking up, as Will called out characters for acting suspiciously, the other characters would just jump on Will and accuse him of being paranoid. The story would then slow way back down, so that we could watch these weird characters socialize some more. I am all for a good slow-burn, but this movie was something else entirely. It just felt like the movie dragged on, and it felt like nothing happened right up until the climax of the movie. The filmmakers had an idea with how they wanted things to play out, but they did not have an interesting story to go along with that idea. Instead, they just dragged the movie out, and they used a non-social main character to hide their lack of a story.

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Con: John Carroll Lynch (+2pts)

I did not like this character, but I liked the actor in the role. After having seen the movie, it is hard to talk about this character without getting into spoiler territory. To vaguely setup this character, he was one of David and Eden's new friends, so he had no connection to Will or Will's old friends. The character was pretty generic, but John Carroll Lynch made him compelling anyway.

This guy's presence was captivating, and John Carroll Lynch's delivery was the primary reason why. The story itself was nothing crazy, as it was typical for a character in a movie such as this one, but John Carroll Lynch's performance was captivating in spite of this. It was a character who should not have been very interesting on paper, but he was one who had a talented actor in the role, one who was able to overcome the character's generic story and make it interesting anyway. Did he save the movie? Of course not, but John Carroll Lynch definitely made the movie at least little better.

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Con: The Ending (-3pts)

The ending of this movie frustrated me quite a bit. The filmmakers dragged this movie out, and it gave me the impression that the filmmakers did not have a full story to tell. Then the climax hit, and the movie ended in a way that setup a whole other potential story. This was the story that the filmmakers should have told in this movie!

The events that occurred during the climax of this story should have occurred around the half-way point of the movie. Then the filmmakers could have explored what came after. There was this whole other story in here, a story that the filmmakers crammed into the end of the movie and lobbed it up into the air for a future movie to spike it. The filmmakers basically setup things up to take this story in crazy, unpredictable, and interesting directions in potential future movies, but by doing none of those interesting things in this movie, the filmmakers delivered a dud.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: D+ (68pts)

There was an interesting story in this premise, but the filmmakers did a poor job of bringing it to the screen. The main character was closed off and non-social, which made him unlikable and it made it so that we did not learn much about the other characters. It also made it so that a large portion of this movie was spent watching the main character standing by himself in a room and staring off into space. The filmmakers wanted to present the idea that the main character might be crazy. By doing so, they ended up delivering a slow, uneventful movie. Michiel Huisman did a pretty good job in his role, as his delivery felt both convincing and trustworthy. It made it so that my gut was telling me his character might be innocent, but my brain was telling me that he was definitely not, and this made him an interesting character.

The climax of the movie was intense, but the ending of the movie made it obvious that the filmmakers missed a huge opportunity here. There was a lot of potential story to tell, but the filmmakers spent most of the movie's runtime stalling. Had they just shifted the events of the climax so that they occurred at the halfway point of the movie, the filmmakers could have spent the second half of the movie taking this story in interesting directions. Unfortunately, the filmmakers did not do that, as they delivered a slow, boring movie that pretty much goes in exactly the direction you would expect it to.

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