Film Feature: Megan O’Brien reviews Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation

The Invitation 

**Warning: spoilers ahead**

Welcome to yet another dinner party from hell, which could very well be the tagline for Karyn Kusama’s 2015 film The Invitation.  This film is the definition of a slow burn because whenever you think something violent is about to happen, it pivots in a new direction.  However, this doesn’t mean it’s void of tension as it’s always there simmering beneath the surface.  Every sound from the clattering of wine glasses to the constant beeping of a car engine is articulated to the point where audiences are left waiting for a release that will never come (until the last 30 minutes of the film that is).

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Film Feature: Katelynn Gleason reviews Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation

An Invitation to Remember

**Warning: spoilers ahead**

The Invitation poster

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.

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Film Feature: Chris J. Patiño reviews Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation

I’m never going to a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills, no matter how good looking the people are.static1.squarespace

Subdued, meticulous and distinctive in tone, The Invitation is a film whose horrors lie in human behavior rather than supernatural forces. Director Karyn Kusama taps into the primal nature of paranoia and suspicion to craft an engrossing psychological thriller that will do everything it can to spike your anxiety up into the stratosphere. The film also serves as a poignant study of grief and the lengths a person will go to free themselves of its pain.

The strength of The Invitation comes from its unpredictability: it keeps the audience second-guessing every visual cue and character action. The sense of unease stems from dissonance among the characters. Their situation continually gets weirder as the film goes along, but the nature of social etiquette keeps everyone quiet. The filmmakers keenly exploit people’s innate impulse to side-step public displays of strangeness to conjure up an excellent sense of sustained tension. The film is a series of tensions and diffusions. Carefully placed diversions keep us and protagonist Will (a tour-de-force Logan Marshall-Green) on edge, constantly rethinking and reanalyzing the situation.

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Three Perspectives on “Snowpiercer”

Below are three perspectives on the 2013 film Snowpiercer.


Sarah George
Engine or tail; where do you belong on the train?

In 2013, Bong Joon-ho directed a film that received universal acclaim for keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Snowpiercer is an action, drama, and science-fiction film that introduces viewers to a world where the lines between good and evil are blurred. Chris Evans portrays Curtis, the tail-section passenger determined to reach the front of the train. Jamie Bell plays Edgar, a young man who worships Curtis, but never seems to be able to impress him.

As the film progresses, Curtis is able to form a plan that gets tail-section dwellers to the front section. As the audience goes on this journey with Curtis, we see his horror as he realizes that the insects on the train are being used for the protein blocks being fed to the tail-section passengers.

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Jet Fuel Review Special Section: Bouts-Rimés

The Jet Fuel Review is hosting a bouts-rimés dossier for our Spring 2016 issue in addition to its regular content. A bouts-rimés is essentially a collaborative sonnet in which everyone uses the same proposed rhymes in the same order. Please feel free to send us 1-3 bouts-rimés using the rhymes below in their specific order. You can submit your work here. The proposed rhymes are as follows:

a: envelope
b: orange
a: telescope
b: singe

c: eyelash
d: wire
c: mustache
d: fire

e: underhand
f: render
e: ampersand
f: tender

g: photogenic
g: pomegranate

From the Encyclopedia Britannica:
bouts-rimés, (French: “rhymed ends”), rhymed words or syllables to which verses are written, best known from a literary game of making verses from a list of rhyming words supplied by another person. The game, which requires that the rhymes follow a given order and that the result make a modicum of sense, is said to have been invented by the minor French poet Dulot in the early 17th century. Its wide popularity inspired at least one notable tour de force, an extended satirical poem by the French poet Jean-François Sarasin.). The fad was revived in the 19th century when Alexandre Dumas invited French poets and versifiers to try their skill with given sets of rhymes and published the results in 1865.

Three Perspectives: Why Halloween is a Classic Film

Three Student Perspectives on the Endurance of John Carpenter’s Halloween:


Ahimme CazarezHalloween_cover
John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the most enduring American horror films ever made because of the sense of obscurity, mystery, and abnormality we receive from the character of Michael Myers. When first introduced to Myers, we are not sure of his past or why he behaves in the way that he does. We do not understand why he kills his sister or what his motives are for killing others. As the audience, we try to answer those questions ourselves and comprehend what is happening. In my case, I would argue that Myers was feeling some kind of grudge toward his sister for not taking care of him properly and not providing him attention. His sister was attending to her boyfriend and not him, which angered him tremendously, making him want to kill her.

If we look at the situation in a Freudian way, we could even argue that Myers had some kind of physical attraction to his sister. But we never really know his true intentions, and it is that type of secrecy that really captivates an audience. The use of normal, small town, teenage characters also allows for viewers to identify with what is happening, making the story more impactful. At some points it even becomes believable. A deranged stranger that hunts for his victims on a night like Halloween sounds like something that could actually happen. All this, topped off with the iconic violent scenes that spawned the usage of slash and gore in horror film, makes this movie revolutionary.

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Discuss: What Works for You?

Yesterday I wrote about the unfortunate occurrence of forgetting how to write. This means that you sit down to write and simply can’t find the typical flow that you normally fall into. This may cause you to experience writer’s block and feel like you have no more good ideas left. This is one of the worst feelings you might experience as a writer and I think we’ve all been there.

For the past few months, I’ve been “forgetting how to write” on a pretty regular basis. I don’t know if this is due to a lack of inspiration or simple laziness. I do think there’s a tendency among writers who have day jobs to come home and want to use their evening time for things other than writing. It can be difficult to sit down and really force yourself to do the writing if you’ve been busy all day. But I’ve found that when you do force yourself to write, you feel pretty great. If you can stay in a regular routine, you might just get something done.

We all have our own ways of dealing with “forgetting how to write.” In yesterday’s post, I quoted author Jory MacKay, who said you have to repent for your writerly sins. You have to admit that you’ve been lacking in inspiration, or haven’t been writing as well, or have simply been slacking off. Once you’ve done that, you can move past the forgetfulness and actually write.

For me, shaking myself out of the writer’s forgetfulness either takes something very big or very small. That is to say, I either need a huge anvil of inspiration to hit me square on the head, or I need to just tell myself to suck it up and get some writing done.

What works best for you? Have you experienced “forgetting how to write”? If so, how did you deal with it? What are your strategies? Please leave them in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Sticking With It

Yesterday I wrote about the value of finishing projects. Although we all know in the back of our minds that we should finish what we’ve started, we sometimes find it hard to resist the new project waiting in the wings. On those days when writing is tough, and your current project is no longer interesting to you, you could so easily drop it and start something new.

I personally had to resist this temptation quite recently. One evening last week, I sat down to do my daily writing and had a moment of weakness, thinking, “I have nothing more to give to this story, why not check out that new idea?” I’ve had a new writing project idea brewing in my brain since the end of last year’s National Novel Writing Month. So far I’ve been successful in keeping that idea at bay while I work on finishing the novel I started in November. But there are still moments when the lure of a new project, along with the inspiration that comes with that newness, has been tempting.

In this case, what stopped me from jumping to the new project was a status update from one of my writer friends. She had just hit 100,000 words on her current project, and she has been writing away for about a year now on the same project. Hearing about that kind of thing from my friends who also write is what keeps me going and makes me want to finish. The success of others can be a fairly good motivating factor.

On that note, are any of you struggling to stick with a project right now? Do you have a new idea that you’re dying to try out? What has stopped you from shifting gears to the new project? Share your experiences in the comments!

I also wanted to ask whether any of you disagree with this principle of always finishing the writing projects that you begin. I know there are some folks who commit “book adultery” when reading, who are able to drop a book if they find it’s not holding their attention and simply move on to another. Are there people out there who do the same with writing? I would love to hear from you in the comments! Do you find that abandoning projects is sometimes necessary? Does it help your writing process?

Hoping to hear from you in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Get Away from the Desk

I know what you’re thinking. It’s cold and horrible outside and you don’t want to leave the comfort of your desk. I feel the same way, believe me. But yesterday’s advice post was all about using a change of environment to jumpstart your writing process. So I think we should all take that to heart and get away from our desks for just one day and do some writing somewhere else.

Now, technically, you could cheat at this challenge and just write somewhere different in your house. If the weather really is frightful, then I give you permission to cheat. Try out your kitchen table (as long as it isn’t noisy), or a couch, or a comfy armchair. Why not try writing in your bed, if you don’t already? You might find that being somewhere else gives you new inspiration. If you find you can’t write lately, there may just be some bad vibes hanging around your desk. Shift yourself to a new place in the house and see what happens!

But if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not try leaving the house and finding a completely new setting for your writing? As was mentioned in yesterday’s post, a coffee shop might be the perfect place to hear snippets of conversations and see people interact in real life. Observing other people can help you understand how your characters should be interacting. Or, perhaps it might help to meet up with a friend and bounce you ideas off them. If the weather is nicer where you live, maybe sit outside and do some writing amongst nature.

Do you already get away from your desk on a regular basis? Share your different writing environments in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

Discuss: Your Current Focus

The great thing about getting a group of writers together is that you get to hear how unique everyone’s current project is. Oftentimes, you’ll find many different genres in one group of writers. You’ll also find that everyone has their own focus when they sit down to write. Some people may be concentrating on their characters, others may be more concerned about the plot. Yesterday I wrote about a quote from Chuck Wendig, which focused on the idea of using keywords in your writing. Today I’d like to talk about your focus in your current writing project.

Your focus is what you think about when you sit down to write each day and what you keep in mind as your progress through your project. Whatever your focus is, it might show up in the keywords that you thought of for yesterday’s post. So if you’re having trouble pinning down what your focus is, you might want to revisit those keywords.

Your focus might also be the central theme or plot element of whatever project you’re working on now. If you’re writing a crime thriller, you might be focusing on the person who did it and writing in such a way that leads your detective to that person. If you’re writing a romance story, your focus is probably the two people you’re trying to bring together in your story.

For me, the focus in my current writing project is a suburban town’s underground history of ancient magic. No matter what scene I’m writing, I always have that focus and foundation in the back of my mind. Keeping myself focused on that central story element means that I never forget where my story is headed, and it helps me remember to keep all of my characters on track.

So, what is the focus of your current writing project? What is it that you want to convey? Share what you’re working on in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan