The Invitation is fantastic. There’s a reason why we haven’t shut up about the film since its South by Southwest premiere, because director Karyn Kusama’s dramatic thriller kind of has it all. It’s a great performance piece, is a master class on how to build tension and play with audience expectations, and is a prime example of how to humanize horror. I’ll say no more, because the less you know before you see The Invitation, the better.
Kusama has always been a talent to watch. Her first film, Girl Fight, is one of the finest debut films of the 2000s. The director got pushed around on her big-budget sophomore effort, Aeron Flux, so it’s hard to blame her for that one. Then she bounced back nicely with Jennifer’s Body, the Diablo Cody-written comedy. The Invitation is on a whole other level, though, and once the film comes out next year, Kusama’s stock is will rise.
Inevitably, after the film’s release, some people are going to want to see her direct a superhero movie, especially one starring a female. As for Kusama, she’s not so interested in superheroes. When asked if she has the desire to direct a comic book movie or would rather keep making small-scale movies, the director explained why superheroes aren’t for her.
“I’d love to find a scale between these two ends of the spectrum,” she told us. “The problem with the superhero movies is, to me, they work within a mythology I just don’t believe in. I don’t believe a single individual transforms into a super-charged version of him or herself and then saves the world – and I think that’s a flawed paradigm. I’m really tired of it. For me, I probably wouldn’t be drawn to that sort of storytelling at this point. I would love to find some sweet spot, where I can make movies that have some resources but also have something to say, and I’m allowed to say it. We’ll see. Ultimately, I lean towards the smaller, more personal filmmaking.”
When smaller, more personal filmmaking leads to a movie like The Invitation, why trade in that freedom to work with more cooks in the kitchen? That’s not to say Kusama couldn’t make a great large-scale movie, especially under the right circumstances, but finding complete creative freedom at that level is almost impossible. And making a movie to make between the two ends of the spectrum won’t be easy, either, but whatever the director does next, we’re excited for it.