POPSUGAR – If you like suspenseful movies involving creepy characters and cults, there’s a new film that’s right up your alley. It’s called The Invitation, and it’ll chill you to the bone. Logan Marshall-Green stars as Will, a man still grieving a major loss, who returns to the home he used to share with his now-ex-wife, Eden (Tammy Blanchard). Yeah, that already sounds awkward, doesn’t it? He’s actually going there for a dinner party she’s hosting with her new beau, David (Game of Thrones’ Michiel Huisman) — peak awkwardness.
Because this is a thriller, it’s not just about uncomfortable human interaction. Things get downright weird when Eden and David reveal they’ve been enlightened by a group of free-spirited people who participate in a way of life called The Invitation. You’ll have to see the movie (opening this Friday) to find out what happens next, but we do have some intel on what you should expect. We got the chance to speak with Huisman and director Karyn Kusama, so here’s what you need to know about the movie — directly from them.
1. It’ll hit you right from the first scene: Without giving to much away, the movie has quite the opening sequence. “Part of what made that scene interesting, I hope on screen but definitely on the page, was the sense that this surprise comes out of nowhere,” said Kusama. “That’s such the experience of living in Los Angeles, at least on the East side. When you’re driving, there’s this sense that anything can lurk out of the shadows and jump in front of your car. I feel like that’s a metaphor for some of the issues in the film: the trauma and surprise of grief and sorrow. The sharp turns that it makes you take in your life.”
2. Huisman researched real cults to prep for the film: “There’s not one particular cult that this was inspired by, but I read a lot about all these different cults,” said Huisman. “Even the famous ones, like the Manson family. I tried to do a little research there to understand what it is that the people who follow them find in them.”
3. It couldn’t have been set anywhere but Los Angeles: While Huisman called out the “mysterical vibe” that LA has, Kusama got into the nitty gritty of why the movie only makes sense to take place there: “Los Angeles and Southern California, and perhaps even California generally, attracts a dreamer personality or a searcher personality. Part of the seduction and the promise of Los Angeles is that it’s a place where you can remake yourself and start all over again. The film is really trafficking in both the well-known histories and mythologies of LA in terms of its fringe movements and fringe belief systems, but also this general hope and idealism that comes with living here, that’s so much about the reinvention of the self.”
4. The ending is unpredictable: “Movies like this need to have an end that stays with you,” said Huisman. “When I read the script, the end of it was so great that I was dying to be a part of it.” It does, however, explore a lot before it gets to that final punch. “I never felt impatient with it because I was so interested by the emotional story and the unraveling story between the husband and wife of Will and Eden,” said Kusama. “I was always really gripped by the emotional suspense of the story. . . . You have to wait for it.”
5. It’s not your typical thriller: “I was intrigued by the idea of letting go as a form of salvation and what happens when you take that too far,” said Huisman. “I thought it was a different approach to the usual thriller concept. It’s very psychological. And in the end, it’s very scary.”