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The Invitation (Blu-ray Review)

the invitation coverWith the rise of video on-demand, the line between major theatrical releases and films that seemingly go straight-to-video is starting to become blurred. Such is the case of a lot of thrillers not featuring major stars. The Invitation has every right to be appreciated as much as other horror/thrillers that pass as mainstream entertainment, but it’s a much smaller film and could only have so much reach. Fortunately, the film received its share of acclaim and has a Blu-ray release that very much helps to preserve the look and feel of the film, along with throwing in some other goodies.

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Film:

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Working fairly independently, director Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body) has teamed up with writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi for a very low-key thriller based around a dinner party. Not-Tom Hardy – Logan Marshall-Green stars as Will, a man attending the party hosted by his ex-wife. He is bringing along his new girlfriend and joining several others who all have not seen each other in quite some time.

To say more about the plot would be a disservice to the surprises in-store for those who are intrigued already, but you should at least know The Invitation builds a lot out of the psychological games it plays with the lead character. From the start we know that something sinister may be afoot and it is because Will’s mental perspective is what the film centers around.

Regardless of what events do transpire though, The Invitation makes plenty out of the dinner party setup. There’s a great ear for dialogue on display when it comes to having people come together for a social gathering in a private setting and the awkwardness that ensues when it involves people who have changed or those who are unfamiliar with each other.

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As hosts Eden and David, Tammy Blanchard and Michiel Huisman do a terrific job in bringing a tricky sense of trust to the film, as they present a lot of information that calls into question whether they are just kind of strange or if something else is actually happening. Adding John Carroll Lynch to the mix further adds to the effectiveness of this story.

The Invitation is slow-burn overall, but not one that I ever found to be uninteresting. Once the third act does kick into gear, however, the film makes good use of its established geography of the house and builds things to a natural and fitting conclusion. It is then topped off by a final shot that is simply amazing. Adding on solid character work for the key players and you have a film that is a solid watch overall and perfect for those looking for a dark drama, with plenty of paranoia-based suspense.

 

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: Shot on film, there is a real textured feel to the film in an effort to help build the film’s atmosphere. The Blu-ray does a fine job of preserving this aspect, as grain is present, but not obtrusive. Instead, the film, despite a limited setting, has a lived-in feel. You get to see the various details within the main house as well as in the few outdoors shots and in the costumes. It all comes through quite clear.

Depth: The image does a fine job of showing dimension particularly in the scenes involving many characters, as well as the depth of field, when it comes to seeing Will’s perspective.

Black Levels: There is a dark look to the film as a whole and mixed with the nighttime setting, you get some great, deep black levels and no sign of crush.

Color Reproduction: Colors manage to pop, despite the very deliberate look of the film. Uses of color in the interiors as well as when it comes to things like wine or a pool look great.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures come out well. There’s lots of detail seen in the close-ups on Marshall-Green’s face.

Noise/Artifacts: The grain is present, but that’s the film itself, not the Blu-ray. Nothing else to speak of.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English Dolby 5.1

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Given the emphasis on sound design to heighten the paranoia of Will, there is a strong soundtrack here that gives way to the key audio cues necessary for the film.

Low Frequency Extension: The use of score and some action towards the end helps give life to the LFE channel.

Surround Sound Presentation: It is balanced quite well, with the best example involving multiple characters spread across the different channels, while the score hits in the background.

Dialogue Reproduction: “Where the f*** is Choi!” – Everyone is loud and clear.

 

Extras:

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While the behind-the-scenes look is pretty short, there is a solid commentary track that does the film justice, along with some neat essays in the package.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Karyn Kusama and Writers Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi – A solid track that goes over the production, the cast, various difficulties and certain deleted scenes not found on this Blu-ray, unfortunately.
  • The Making of The Invitation (HD, 10:00) – At only ten minutes, this featurette is pretty standard, but leaves more to be desired.
  • Music Videos (HD)
  • 16-Page Booklet Featuring Photos & Essays – Included in the package and is a nice little bonus to check out.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film

Summary:

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The Invitation is a solid thriller that many people looking for a good thriller should be looking into. The cast is great, but the mood is the highlight here, regardless of how deliberate the pace is. As far as the Blu-ray goes, this disc preserves what is so effective about the direction of the film and has a solid commentary worth digging into as well. Check out this film to enjoy a dinner party movie with a chilling mood.

Order Your Copy Here

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

2 Responses to “The Invitation (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I liked this! Kori hated. Not Tom Hardy was awesome in it!

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I hated it, too.