An Invitation to Remember
**Warning: spoilers ahead**
Karyn Kusama’s 2015 film The Invitation is worth watching but not for the reasons you might think. It is best to approach the film without grand expectations and with the realization that it is not your typical horror movie. It is better described as a psychological mystery/drama.
The general narrative structure is straight-forward at best and highly predictable. The mystery of the invitation is revealed early on, despite the attempt of hiding it with the uncomfortable atmosphere of the dinner party. Still, there are some redeeming qualities that make this film worth watching at least once.
The spiritual message and social commentary woven throughout the film are intriguing, particularly how this commentary is portrayed through Eden, Will’s ex-wife. (Eden is played by Tammy Blanchard; Will is played by Logan Marshall-Green.) When she is first introduced, Eden enters the room as a vision of purity in her white, flowy attire—a direct nod to the Garden of Eden. Visually, she represents perfection, much like the paradise environment that is associated with the biblical garden. Yet, if you recall the story, Eden is not perfection, but potential. Internally, she is susceptible to the ways of evil (most notably death and deception–as seen in the film–and the serpent in the Bible). For Eden, and the other followers, this “potential” manifests itself in an idea that pain is optional, and its removal can be achieved through transcendence.
The “cult” that has invaded several homes in the surrounding neighborhood, as demonstrated by the red lantern lighting, seems like a comment on mental health. The people of the cult have been brought together by their experiences with trauma and their inability to cope with it. The flashbacks that Will has, provide the viewer a glimpse into Eden’s mental instability over the loss of their son. While this specific traumatic incident is not experienced by everyone, the subsequent emotions are a commonality throughout society. Unfortunately for Eden, and so many others, transcendence (suicide) is a way to remove the pain of severe depression.
Despite the slow-moving and predictable nature of the film, the underlying message does make it worth watching. Again, even though I would not necessarily recommend this film for entertainment, I would recommend watching it for the social commentary.
BIO: Katelynn Gleason is a graduate student at Lewis University in the M.A Secondary Education program. Becoming an educator has been a long-time dream of Katelynn’s, and she hopes to instill a passion for reading and writing in her future students. After student teaching middle school language arts in the fall, she will graduate this December. After graduation, she plans to substitute teach while searching for a permanent teaching position in Florida. She currently works for the Youth and Family department at her local YMCA. During the little free time she has, Katelynn enjoys reading, baking, watching movies, and spending time with her family (fur babies included). Her favorite genre, for both literature and film, is horror—but she also loves all things Disney. Fun fact—Katelynn has seen Frozen 2 approximately 537 times thanks to her daughter’s obsession, and the clearly irrational decision to purchase the film the day it was released.