Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Premiere! The Invitation

Beyond Fest has been in full effect since last Thursday night's premiere of gangster flick Legend starring Tom Hardy with writer/director Brian Helgeland stopping by for Q&A. Things have been pedal to the floor ever since with a Better Off Dead reunion, Evil Dead double feature with Edgar Wright, Bruce Campbell and surprise guest Sam Raimi along with 600 foam chainsaws then a rare concert featuring Italian composer Frizzi. We finally made it Monday night for the west coast premiere of The Invitation, a single location ensemble piece about a dinner party featuring old friends who haven't seen each other in two years after a family tragedy. We saw a clip at Comic-Con and you just knew some weird shit was going to happen. Directed by Karyn Kusama from a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, the flick stars Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michiel Huisman, Mike Doyle and John Carroll Lynch. It was a packed house and the lobby was set up with posters from various films playing throughout the festival. But the pre-show clips of random horror, trailers, Rocky III training and whatnot lent terrific additional energy.

The Invitation starts with Will (Green) and Kira (Corinealdi) on their way to Eden's (Tammy Blanchard) home in the Hollywood Hills. Eden happens to be Will's ex-wife and they used to share the house. It's been two years since they split and their circle of friends haven't seen much of either since. Past secrets and pain are revealed as present plans unfold leading to a final act that I thought involve aliens. While it wasn't Invasion of the Body Snatchers at a dinner party, there's the same sense of dread and questioning who your friends are that made for a funny, intense, violent and raw 100 minutes. It's a simple flick so I don't want to spoil anything but it's definitely worth checking out as performances are solid as is the ambiance and shocking conclusion. After the film, director Kusama, writers Hay and Manfredi along with actor Marshall-Green took to the stage for Q&A. Non-spoiler basics:

- Kusama and Hay are married in real life.
- Hay and Manfredi have been kicking the idea around since about 2000.
- Play on reality and legends of Hollywood Hills' various crimes and oddities.
- Kusama met Green at a coffee shop who thought he was a loitering lurker, liked his lack of ego or vanity.
- Diverse cast reflected reality of living in Los Angeles.
- Nice to work in modern day, independent horror or sci-fi as big ideas can replace big set pieces.
- A week before shooting, ensemble cast and filmmakers spent time with each other alone, in pairings and groups to work out dynamics and tone.
- Edited in Kusama and Hay's garage much to neighbor's chagrin.
- Worked hard to keep the tension up throughout, where to throttle, where to let go, etc.

It's a little tough to talk about since once you see it or talk about it, you can't unsee it or untalk about it, know what I mean? A great night and a solid flick, bring on the west coast premiere of Bone Tomahawk aka Kurt Russell's gothic western, with cannibals! See ya at The Egyptian.

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