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A dinner party takes some disturbing turns in "The Invitation," a horror-thriller whose payoff doesn't match the build-up.
Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend, Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), venture into the Hollywood Hills for a dinner party, thrown by Will's ex-wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard), and her new hubby, David (Michiel Huisman) two years after Will last saw Eden, in the aftermath of the death of their 5-year-old son.
The guest list includes many of Will and Eden's old friends, along with two new faces: Pruitt (John Carroll Lynch) and Sadie (Lindsay Burdge), who talk about the spiritual retreat where Eden and David met them. While the other friends are wary of a sales pitch for what sounds like a cult, Will begins to suspect something more ominous.
The script, by the team of Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi ("Ride Along"), builds a bit slowly at first, and the ultimate reveal seems a bit obvious. Director Karyn Kusama ("Jennifer's Body") plays the story like a fairly intense "Twilight Zone" episode, one that earns its tension before the climax by leaving it open whether Will is justifiably concerned or just paranoid.
Opens Friday, May 6, at the Tower Theatre; not rated, but probably R for strong violence, sexuality and language; 100 minutes.