THE INVITATION

— Jeff Schultz

There are two gripping scenes in this tense but overlong thriller which may make you thirsty because its premise requires swallowing a pretty big grain of salt. One involves the lead (Logan Marshall-Green) and key recipient of the dinner party invitation, who is skeptical from the get-go and who a little past the halfway point erupts in rage, calling out the party hosts for their unquestionably bizarre behavior. The other is a monologue from the great John Carroll Lynch (so memorably menacing in “Carnivàle”) about coming to terms with his wife’s violent death. But from the moment the party begins until its convulsive finale there are so many big honking warning signs that sticking around is not a good idea, you become frustrated with the guests’ blindness and willingness to stay. Plus, Green’s character as written is a drip, a grief-stricken introvert who’s less sympathetic than merely a drag. Fortunately, Tammy Blanchard and, more subtly, Michiel Huisman as the hosts generate the right creepy/dangerous vibe to keep us on edge until and after the mystery reveals itself.

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