The Invitation13 Jul 2016
The Invitation is tense, scary, a fine example of what a better-than-average film in the genre can do. But overall, it is derivative. It adds nothing new or interesting to the genre.
Often films like this, when they’re not moving the genre forward, can bring in something else. Above average acting, cinematography, directing, or something else, perhaps. But even all those elements were mostly average in this case. For example, there’s a framing shot that features Will, the protagonist, in the right-most or left-most third of the screen. The rest of the shot is occupied by a doorway and a long hallway. The first or second time this shot is used, it is interesting. But by the third time it becomes stale. Another shot, with more motion, shows feet - some bare, some in shoes - running up stairs as the camera moves slowly with them in profile. This was a nice way to mix up the pace and framing of the second act. More shots like this, mixed with more traditional, narrative diversity would have made the first two acts feel less bogged down by the structures of the genre.
Overall, I found the film entertaining. But there is hardly any reason to go back and see it for a second time. You get everything there is to get in a single viewing.