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The Invitation Movie Discussed with Phil Hay and Explained
I love it when you guys tip me to new and interesting movies. That is the case here. Gah, how did this go down? So many movies were thrown at me this week alone by you all. Um… looking. Oh yeah, here we go. It was out on twitter that @JimPenola said that if I was into the movie Coherence (which I am, in a big way) then I would totally dig the movie The Invitation.
Which. I did.
So yeah. Let’s setup the movie like I normally do. If you haven’t seen the movie, you are safe. For now. I’ll walk you through a high level overview and then you can go and find it. Heck, go watch it on Amazon, and then flip back here to discuss it with us. It’s brilliant.
The Invitation Overview
The setup on this movie is actually pretty critical to the conclusion and that amazing plot twist ending. We have a group of friends that haven’t seen each other for a couple years. But they are all called back together again to catch up again. To find out what they’ve all been up to and to possibly even make amends? Many of the friends have moved on, have new spouses, boyfriends, etc so it makes the reunion complicated, to put it lightly.
And on top of all that (underneath all that?) there was an event that happened that caused the key couple in the center of it all to split and go different directions. So that is raising memories in an entirely different level and sends the viewer in entirely different directions.
If you enjoy movies driven by dialogue, by intrigue, and by interesting characters… then this movie will work for you. It is a little slow for the first hour. And yet, if you aren’t paying attention just know you are going to miss it. Miss where the movie is going and the intensity of the last 30 minutes. (Which, I have to say is fantastic.) So if surprise twist movies are your thing… if you dig movies with onion skin layers unraveling before your eyes… then The Invitation is definitely for you. Ok? Why don’t we do the trailer… and then don’t go lower. Because from then on out it’ll be spoiler territory. Great. Because the last thing I want to do is to ruin the movie for you. Go see it first.
Alright, seriously, I’m planning to dive in now… Go watch and come back.
The Invitation Setup
As I mentioned above, there is a bit of setup that occurs over the first 60 minutes. Quite a lot of scaffolding that gets put into place before we can start into our Invitation Doctoral Thesis work. We have relationships that are established. Current day friendships, marriages, who’s dating whom… etc. We also start finding out about how they are today. Not the whys, but a lot of the what’s happen pretty early on.
We also get some detail around a bit of their pasts and how they are different today. We get a few vagueries about prime movers, but mostly we get a ton of detail about the fact that most everyone in this movie has changed. Some for the better. Some for the worse. And some for the apparent better, but actually for the worse? And that is the question of this movie – the penultimate, driving force of this whole movie – is the question, ‘what the heck is going on here?’ Something happened to some of these people. What happened? Why did it happen? And what does it mean?
This entire movie is loaded with these questions, what happened and what does it mean?
The Invitation Movie Characters
There are two characters in this movie that really matter. The first character we should dive in on is Will. Will is separated from Eden, and is now with Kira. Right? Was with Eden. Now with Kira. The invitation has come from Eden and his been given to Will (her ex) and Kira (her competition) to come to Eden and Will’s old home. To return. To come back for the first time in the past several years. Right? Hello? We have new Will (with Beard) and old Will (sans Beard) and we see just how different these two Wills are. And yet, we don’t fully understand the details that have caused this Will bifurcation. But we can see through flashbacks, both Wills. Side by side.
Then we have Eden. Will’s previous significant other. They had two children together. Which, actually takes a while to completely come out. Because something terrible has happened here. Something tragic has occurred. And Eden basically went insane because of it. She was a headcase. A mental headjob. It was lucky that Will made it out of that relationship alive. Right? It was good for him to get out, save his skin. It was good for Will to move on with Kira. To try and to start over.
And Eden? She needed to do something. Anything to return from the brink. She needed to pull it back from the edge, and do something differently. And so Eden meets up with David. And then something happens. We aren’t told what, or how, or when… but David and Eden head of to Mexico somewhere to a retreat. And it is while they are at this retreat that Eden completely transforms. She let’s go of the past, and she chooses to forgive. Eden decides that the chaos of the past isn’t worth carrying forward into the future. She willfully chooses to be different.
There are also other bit players that come and go and move in and out of this story. But they matter way less than the rest of the players.
The Invitation Movie and the Son?
One of the key details that is buried deep within the wounds of the characters is the event with Will and Eden’s son. We don’t know much about how their son died, but after being called out by Shabrina for thinking they had had two sons, and one had accidentally killed the other I contacted Phil Hay and he informed just how sad, and wrong I was on this point. Apparently Will and Eden had one son. And their son was accidentally killed by another boy, family friend. But I while I was wrong originally, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. I had even read deeply into the script for the answer to this particular riddle. Here is the detail I had originally found in the script:
She is not looking at him. He watches her. He says her name. She doesn’t hear him, doesn’t look over at him. She looks closed to him. Like a person he doesn’t know.
Will runs. Pushing through people. The older boy is crying. He holds an aluminum baseball bat.
WILL – What did you do? What did you do?
Eden is on her knees in front of them. She screams.
AT THE TABLE
Will’s face. The sound of the conversation rises into a cacophony.
But we basically get that same information from the movie itself. There is a bat involved, and the older child has done something to the younger one. Was it malicious? Was it an accident? The yelling from Will seems to indicate that he may have thought it was intentional? I don’t really think we can know much beyond that without any level of certainty. But thanks Shabrina for pointing out my flawed understanding!
The Invitation Has TONS of Potential Energy
This situation is LADEN with potential. Reminds me of learning about “potential energy” in middle school. Rock rolled up to the top of a hill? Potential energy. Nitrogen? Potential energy. A powder keg, with a book of matches sitting next to it? Potential energy. An invitation from your ex? To come visit your old house? To catch up? Potential energy. We have all the elements, piled up, ready for ignition. Major Tom to Ground Control…
This is a slow burn movie. It carefully, and intentionally, assembles the flawed pieces of this jigsaw puzzle. This movie slowly and intentionally crafts the ins and outs of these lives, these stories, and backstories. This movie may even be seen as boring for many who don’t understand the power of a well orchestrated movie brimming with potential energy. This story, is a powder keg, at the top of a hill, with a lit fuse, and it’s starting to roll now… This movie has a LOT of potential energy. You get it.
The Invitation Movie Mechanics
I just found a copy of the script and voraciously read through it from beginning to end. I had a ton of questions that I was dying to know that the movie didn’t explicitly clear up. But it is important to note one very specific moment in The Invitation. And that is the toast. That is the moment when the potential energy becomes real energy. That is the moment when the movie crests the hill and starts galloping downhill. Because while everyone is upset with Will for ruining the toast, and hurting Sadie, Gina is lying on the floor, foaming at the mouth. And that is when we finally realize that Will isn’t insane. That will is actually the only one who knows what is going down here at this “dinner party”. Right?
So, starting with Gina, the members of the party quickly begin getting executed. While Gina is on the floor, Miguel attempts to revive her with CPR, but is shot by David. Two down. Pruitt then takes the gun from David while Kira, Ben, and Will take cover. Pruitt then kills Choi by shooting him before heading elsewhere in the house. Ben, Kira, and Will book it and try to escape the house to no avail. And along the way the find Tommy. Tommy bum-rushes Eden, who is understandably angry because of the death of his boyfriend. Tommy gets stabbed by Eden, and Eden is critically injured. And Tommy appears dead as well. And as the situation continues to unravel it becomes clear that David is intent on everyone dying here tonight… We learn this from the response when he learns that Eden is dead, “that is good, she is with ‘them’ now.” And we also learn that goal of this attack was for the chosen to be allowed to leave the Earth, and to leave all of the hurt that they have been put through in this life.
This Mexican Cult basically espouses an interestingly morose method of sanctification. If I can infer from the video that was shown during the party, as well as from the comments from David… – in order to go to heaven/nirvana (or wherever), they were required to kill someone. This other person would ostensibly carry your pains, doubts, and sins, and free you from this burden I guess? They are the sacrifice that allows you to move onward. And that was what we were seeing in the film. So if that is the case, maybe the person we watched die wasn’t sick!? They were being killed solely to allow a member of their cult to move onward to heaven. Right? Or were we seeing someone that had already killed someone, that was now moving onward?
But there was also another big portion of this cult that was about bringing on the end of the world through a dinner party mechanic. Which, in an AVON PARTY sort of way, allowed them to send the most people on to this Nirvana maybe? Or, maybe it served a dual role in that it subjugated the earth and it’s deviance and also allowed this transition for as many people as humanly possible.
The Invitation Movie Turn
In my conversation that I had with Phil Hay I asked specifically about the turn. When did he know about the turn? The Red Lantern bit? M. Night always says that he didn’t know Bruce Willis was dead until rewrite number 87 or something. (I’ll talk about Phil’s response tomorrow when I publish our conversation and the details there.) But the RED LANTERN! David calmly walks out to the backyard, lights a red lantern and places it up on a hook for the surrounding area to see. And then walks back inside.
The reveal here is that the world is turning upside down tonight. Instead of a Jim Jones kool-aid experience at a mass scale, we are seeing cell groups working independently towards a larger goal. And what we have been witnessing is not a conversion experience, but rather an Armageddon experience. A reckoning per se. So, to that end, I have several theories about what is happening with all those fields of red lanterns we see.
The Invitation Option #1 The World In Flames
This theory espouses that this cult reached enormous prevalence down in Mexico. And through this prevalence, they were able to setup millions and millions of these end of the world parties. To determine a unified date, and a coordinated plan to impact the entire world all at once. These parties would both kill the attendees as well as the hosts, and in so doing would culminate as many people reaching this nirvana-esque place as possible.
Problems with theory #1 – Well, the math doesn’t add up. If Mexico is the rallying cry for this cult, then it’s going to need a ton of space and a ton of vacation locations for all these party hosts to learn, and plan and coordinate. Do the math with me. Let’s assume there are what, 7 billion people on the planet. You need a couple of people (at the very least) to host a party. Let’s just assume 3 on average, though that wasn’t what our party had. And then let’s say there are 7 attendees per 3 hosts? 10 total per party? Some more, some less? Then that would mean that for this cult to wipe the planet clean there would need to be 700 million parties thrown concurrently.
Oh and another problem, the world is round? So as California is going up in flames new agencies around the world would be talking about it. Right? So it would be tipping the world off something was wrong. I’m not going to my Avon party later tonight! No way! hahah. Unless they were trying to wrangle people at 3 am. And that sounds doubtful too.
The Invitation Option #2 Hollywood In Flames
Ok so, I’m not personally buying theory #1 – even though the sheer quantity of lanterns seems to suggest as much. What about if this cult is just throwing its weight specifically at Hollywood, or maybe California? A smaller region. This would solve problem one and two with theory 1. Although, I can’t really think of a great motive, I mean beyond the fact that California is the land of fruits and nuts. Besides that. Regardless, this theory works from a scale and a scope standpoint. Even though I don’t know why a cult would do this.
The Invitation Option #3 A Phased Approach?
Now this theory, theory 3, is the same as theory two, but maybe this cult is actually just warming up? They attack Hollywood and California? Then in 6 months they send out another Invitation date, with another entirely new phalanx of hosts and parties to be had? Then they could gradually, and repeatedly hit the earth with these Invitations? Maybe I should talk with the Director and find out? Excuse me mam, “The Invitation 2” – is it in Florida, or Moscow, or maybe Lima? Then we could get several questions answered at once depending on how he responds! haha.
The Invitation Movie Interview with Phil Hay
Speaking of talking with the director, please know this, Phil Hay, who co-wrote the screenplay was kind enough to answer a ton of questions about the movie for me. Phil Hay is the writer of a ton of stuff that you know, Aeon Flux, Clash of the Titans, Ride Along (1 & 2), etc. etc. so it was a real privilege to get an opportunity to chat with him a little bit about this delightful movie. But I think I’ll post that conversation as a follow up. (We are already thousands of words in! Trust me here.) The link will go right —–> here once it’s ready. Promise. (I’m totally going to forget aren’t I?)
Almost 3000 words later I think we’ve talked through the big overarching themes and the enormous reveals of this movie. These were just the first three theories I could think of. What are your theories about how this movie went down? I’m sure yours will be better than mine on this one. I definitely want to hear them that is for sure. Soon we will discuss the interview with Phil Hay and maybe we’ll get some more answers to our questions.
YOU CAN CATCH THAT INTERVIEW RIGHT HERE.