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Film / The Invitation

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Just a nice little meal with friends.

"I'm so glad you're here. We have a lot to talk about. So much to say tonight."

The Invitation is a 2015 horror thriller film directed by Karyn Kusama, starring Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, and Emayatzy Corinealdi.

Two years after the accidental death of their son Ty and subsequent divorce, Will's ex-wife Eden and her new husband David invite Will, his girlfriend Kira, and other estranged friends to a reunion dinner party. Drinks and awkward conversation flow. After he learns about the couple's new religion and meets their strange friends, Will suspects that a sinister plot is brewing...or maybe he's his own worst enemy.


The film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: Losing your child in an accident, and your spouse attempting suicide.
    • Having to watch helplessly while your partner/spouse is murdered right in front of you, as Tommy and Choi do.
    • For a lot of people, watching your friends die and not being able to save most of them would qualify.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Eden, as she shoots herself, is remorseful for what has happened, and her last words are about how much she misses her son.
  • The Alcoholic: Pruitt notes that he used to drink heavily, which led to him killing his wife.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Eden during the climax, who only wanted everyone poisoned and dying relatively quickly, and is horrified as things devolve into violent, bloody shooting and stabbing. She shoots her ex-husband once and immediately shoots herself out of guilt.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The cause of Ty's death is left ambiguous, but implied to be a friend accidentally bludgeoning him with a baseball bat during a pinata game.
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  • Arc Symbol: The red lantern David lights on the outdoor patio. The final shot implies it to be a signal to nearby cultists that they're ready to slaughter their guests.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Eden delivers one to Ben when he calls The Invitation "bullshit."
  • Asshole Victim: David, Sadie, and Pruitt, who are all dead by the end of the film.
  • Audience Surrogate: Like most people would act, Will is highly suspicious of his hosts. He and Claire are the only guests who are disturbed by The Invitation recruitment video and Pruitt's story about drunkenly murdering his wife. Claire leaves because of the latter.
  • Ax-Crazy: With slightly different variations, but David, Sadie, and Pruitt all qualify.
  • Anti-Villain: Eden, David, Sadie, and Pruitt all joined The Invitation just to cope with grief and guilt, and earnestly believe that murder-suicide is the path to salvation.
    • Among them, Eden is the most sympathetic and regretful of her actions.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Twice. Gina's boyfriend, Choi, is missing yet had left a voicemail indicating that he'd arrived first. As Will accuses the hosts of killing him, Choi arrives late from an emergency. When the murders start, Choi's then the third to die in rapid succession.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Will's grown a long beard since his son's death; it's commented on several times.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Kira saves Will from Pruitt, and Tommy saves them both from David.
  • Big Fancy House: Will's former home, now shared by his ex-wife, her new boyfriend, and a strange girl they met in New Mexico.
  • Bit Character: Choi is introduced well into the third act and dies ten minutes later.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Eden, David, Sadie, and Pruitt are all dead, but so are Gina, Miguel, Choi, and Ben (Claire's fate is left unknown). Will, Kira, and Tommy survive, but The Invitation is still at large in the Los Angeles area.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Played with. The first character we see die is Chinese American Gina, quickly followed by gay and Latino Miguel and Korean American Choi. However, black Kira and gay Tommy survive. It's also heavily implied (and confirmed in a deleted scene) that Claire - who's white - was the first victim.
  • The Brute: Pruitt, an ex-convict, is the strongest of the cultists. He takes several hard blows to the head before finally dying.
  • Bury Your Gays: Miguel dies. Averted with his boyfriend Tommy, who is one of the last three survivors.
  • Contractual Genre Blindness: In the third act, Will accuses Eden and David of poisoning wine. Gina, the one person who drank it, falls over frothing at the mouth, yet nobody confronts their hosts (let alone stops David from shooting Miguel while he's administering CPR).
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Will is rightly paranoid; the hosts and their two friends are cultists plotting murder-suicide.
  • Cult: The Invitation is a cult purporting to be a grief counselling group; believing in a community of souls, its members murder friends who they'd like to see in the afterlife before committing suicide.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Will and Eden's marriage ended after their son Ty's tragic death, and Eden attempting suicide.
    • During a game of "I Never", Pruitt reveals that he drunkenly murdered his wife, and joined The Invitation after his prison sentence.
    • All of The Invitation's cultists have troubled pasts, hence they joined to ostensibly cope with grief and guilt.
  • Definite Article Title: The Invitation, obviously.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Sadie, Eden and David's friend from New Mexico, kisses both male and female guests, making brittle-sounding pronouncements of love. She sexually propositions Will, using the offer of hitting her as enticement. She becomes unhinged in the climax, attacking Will and Tommy and killing Gina.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Pruitt is completely calm and soothing as he's attempting to strangle Will to death.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Doubles as both a reference to Will and Kira's party invitation, and the name of the Cult which their hosts are members of.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Eden slaps Ben for insulting The Invitation. He and Will are shocked, but get over it pretty quickly and act like Ben was 'asking for it' by being rude. Neither calls her out for assaulting him, and Ben just moves on rather than leaving the party or even mentioning it to the other guests, despite giving every indication that it very much hurt.
  • Driven to Suicide: Eden attempted suicide in the past by slitting her wrists. In the present, she actually does commit suicide after being overwhelmed with guilt upon shooting her ex-husband.
  • Driving Question:
    • After two years without seeing each other, why is Will's ex-wife and her new boyfriend inviting him to a party?
    • Who are Sadie and Pruitt?
    • What is The Invitation?
  • Dwindling Party: The party gets ever smaller. Claire leaves (her fate is unknown, though Word of God states that Pruitt killed her), and Gina, Miguel, Choi, and Ben are killed. By the end, only Will, Kira and Tommy survive.
  • Evil Counterpart: David to Will. Both are/were married to Eden, and have been stricken by tragedy. Both sport green shirts at the party, and have the same rough appearance (although Will's beard and hair are longer.)
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Will, Kira, Tommy and possibly Claire are the only party guests left standing at the end.
  • Foreshadowing: A lot.
    • While driving to the party, Will hits and mercy-kills a coyote—an act which David approves. The Invitation cult believes merciful death to be an escape from suffering, bringing them to paradise with friends and family.
      • Will kills the coyote, but Kira stays behind. Later, the roles are reversed when Kira kills Pruitt to rescue an injured Will.
    • Since Will left his house, bars have been installed on the windows. David locks the front door, and tries to stop a disturbed Claire from leaving. The hosts intend to trap their victims for a murder-suicide ritual, per The Invitation's philosophy.
    • Will spies Eden hiding pills. Likely for the poisoned wine served later.
    • When The Invitation is first brought up at the dinner party, Ben calls it a cult, while Tommy and Miguel note that it's really popular in Los Angeles and New York. The final shot implies that other cultists of The Invitation live in the area, orchestrating the same murder-suicide scheme as Eden and David.
  • Genre Savvy: Played with. Will is suspicious of the whole situation since the very beginning, acting as if he knew he's in a horror/thriller film, but the trope isn't played straight since he acts like this out of intuition, not because he's familiar with the genre itself. This is specially evident when he questions David about keeping the main door locked and when he keeps an eye on Pruitt as he accompanies Claire to her car.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Dr. Joseph, the leader of The Invitation. He is responsible for the bloody events of the dinner party and numerous others around the area, but only appears in prerecorded videos.
  • Killed Offscreen: Will and Eden's son Ty and possibly Claire.
  • Knife Nut: Sadie injures Tommy and kills Gina with a dinner knife.
  • Left Hanging: Claire's fate is left unknown, though a deleted scene shows that she died off-screen.
    • Early in the evening, there's a knock on the door answered by David, and he claims they were just some prospective partygoers searching for the correct house — even though it's noted that the remote location of the house would mean they'd die of dehydration hiking around. Whether it was an innocuous visit as David claimed or something else is never revealed.
  • Made of Iron:
    • It takes several hard hits to the head with a blunt object before Pruitt finally dies.
    • Subverted with Sadie. She's knocked out for a few seconds after attacking Will and hitting her head on the edge of table. She's bleeding profusely, but gets up and continues to attack the others, still going with full energy even after further being wounded by Tommy in a scuffle. After a few minutes though, Will and Kira find her dying, her injuries having caught up with her.
  • Manly Tears: Will breaks down in tears right before the third act is kicked into action.
  • Meaningful Name: It's probably not a coincidence that Sadie shares her name with Susan "Sexy Sadie" Atkins, one of Charles Manson's most devoted (and homicidal) followers.
  • Moment Killer: During a seemingly harmless game of "I Want", Pruitt kills the mood when he discusses how he drunkenly killed his wife, which led him to The Invitation.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: One can't help but feel something sinister is lurking underneath the facade of the old friends meeting again.
  • Once Is Not Enough: Inverted. Pruitt strikes and shoves away Kira, then completely ignores her to focus on strangling Will, apparently believing her to have gone down from one good hit. She recovers quickly and comes back to beat him off Will with a wine bottle, and when it's clear that her first strike hasn't killed him, she pours on the blows until he's dead.
  • The Ophelia: Sadie comes across as this.
  • Properly Paranoid: Will's suspicions of the party wind up true.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Will suffers from this throughout the party, having flashbacks to the day his son died and freaking out whenever anyone elicits suspicious behavior. In the end, it turns out all his suspicions were justified.
    • Sadie goes from eccentric seductress to unhinged, violent psychopath when Will stops the guests from drinking poisoned wine.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Claire decides to leave after the "I Want" game.
  • Snuff Film: By the end of it, The Invitation recruitment video becomes one.
  • Straight Gay: Miguel and Tommy are in a relationship, but don't do anything stereotypically gay.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Eden and David serve poisoned wine, intending to die and take their friends with them.
  • Team Title: The Invitation, which is a murder-suicide Cult organizing the dinner party.
  • The Teetotaler:
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Littered around the first act, depicting both the death of Will and Eden's son and Eden's suicide attempt.
  • True Companions: Will's circle of friends (Edie's betrayal aside) are quite close, even after not seeing each other for a long time. Almost all of them approach Will privately at some point to see how he's doing and remind him that they're there for him. They're also shown to be fairly affectionate with each other, with Tommy, Miguel and Claire cuddled together on the couch, and Ben comforting Gina after Will accuses the hosts of killing Choi.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sadie flips out when Will slaps the poisoned drinks out of people's hands, attacking him..
    Sadie: You ruined it! You're fucking ruining everything!
  • Wham Shot: The final scene of the movie shows several houses throughout the Hollywood Hills area with the same red lantern that David lit earlier, revealing that David and Eden weren't the only ones influenced by The Invitation.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Claire leaves early, citing discomfort, but Pruitt follows her outside to move his car out of the way. She's never seen again.
    • Word of God in the director's commentary confirmed a deleted scene that showed Claire left dying in a bush.
  • White Shirt of Death: Eden's dress after she shoots herself.
  • Wine Is Classy: Invoked a few times by the guests exclaiming over the wine being served. It's apparently quite expensive.


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