The Invitation Movie

So I sat down with a drink last night to watch a movie that I’d heard Bret Easton Ellis talk about in one of his podcasts. The feature in question was The Invitation.

In short, this is one hell of creepy build to the ultimate pay-off in the final scene.

What I enjoyed about this film is the intensity of the acting within a film that is clearly low in budget. It just didn’t require any effects and nor did it require any popcorn. It’s not that sort of a film.

The basic premise is that a young guy (Will) and his new girlfriend arrive at a party that is essentially a reunion of old friends with their new partners. Amongst the hosts are Will’s ex and what later transpires is that they both suffered an awfully traumatic experience when living together – in the house where the party is being held.

The entire movie is built around this dynamic and the plot centres on how this trauma is being and has been handled by Will and his ex.

Though the motivation and the wishes of the hosts become pretty obvious as the story unfolds, it’s the build up that affected me the most. It’s sinister, intense and ultimately a chilling view. But beautifully presented.

To explain any further detail would wander into the territory of giving too much away. You really must experience this film with fresh eyes and make your own judgement.

If you enjoy tense thrillers and would happily watch such things again then I’d recommend forking out the £5.99 (HD and SD) on iTunes. Rental is just £2.49. (As at June 2017)

I’m no movie reviewer but if I were to award points I’d happily give it 4/5. The final mark would have been given had some of the supporting roles been a little less amateurish. But on the whole a fine film.

 

Lights Out Movie

So I relaxed with a glass of red and a movie last night. My intention was to switch off but instead I found myself making notes as the film unfolded. The film in question was last year’s Lights Out.

It’s a short film at just over 80 minutes. I don’t think it needed to be much longer than that. Everything that needed saying was said well enough in that time.

What’s more there’s really only a handful of characters to cling to. This I liked.

Maria Bello

Sophie (played by the always lovely Maria Bello, whom I recently saw and enjoyed in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee) is the central character. Her troubled childhood and constant struggles with her mental health form the backstory and provide us with our antagonist, Diana.

Diana, only visible in the darkness

So it’s Diana that gives us all the scares and provides us with an intriguing hook. What I liked here was that the initial events in the film gave me something to immediately care about. Albeit in the form of ‘what the fuck is going on?’

Diana is a malevolent spirit that has latched onto Sophie. Sophie is very much alive, Diana isn’t.

The backstory explains how Diana came to be the dark spirit and involves experiments and rare skin disorders. Since this was 80 minutes of research I found myself noting down rather a lot of backstory. Perhaps the whole kid-with-a-skin-condition thing could have been implied somehow. I don’t know. It seemed to occupy a fair bit of screen time evaluating how Diana came to be.

Regardless, it was effective and we are left with a suitably shifty and sinister ‘bad guy’.

So Diana can only be seen and can only be active in the darkness. If confronted by said spirit, simply flick a light on.

All too easy, right? Wrong. Diana appears to have some sway over the power situation and can disable the lights. Even lighting a fire doesn’t appear to work for too long.

Whatever, the point of the scare dynamics is that dark = bad, light = good. It makes the film uncomplicated and easy to watch.

Because the cast was pretty light I found myself actually caring about them all. Rebecca, Sophie’s daughter, and her brother Martin seem to be always in the thick of it. Naturally looking out for one another whilst trying to ‘fix’ their mother.

Rebecca’s boyfriend Bret plays his role, also.

But Sophie has problems. She has serious mental health issues. Always has, by the looks of it. When she’s taking her meds Diana doesn’t trouble anyone. When she’s off the meds, Diana causes havoc.

A simple dynamic. Stay on yer meds, Mother!

But of course Sophie doesn’t want to be the nutcase. She wants to be clean and free of the meds so occasionally lapses. She’s weak. Ultimately that weakness tells as she sacrifices herself for the sake of her children. With Sophie gone, Diana is gone. Apparently.

So after 80 minutes I was left feeling reasonably satisfied by the story and suitably buoyed into adding a little more to my own creepy ghost story.

The dynamic of weird shit existing in the darkness only to vanish with the lights on isn’t terribly original. But it was quite satisfyingly executed.

It felt a lot like a college film. An independent kid’s project that had received some Hollywood funding. It also echoed the creepy turn of the century Japanese horror that gave us Ring and Dark Water. No bad thing.

I think the point (if there needs to be one) that I’m trying to arrive at here is that you don’t need buckets of dollars to make an effective movie. You just need a captivating story and the ability to communicate it while the camera’s rolling.

 

Escape to North Carolina?

 

southport-03

I’d like to expand my blogging a little to include some non-art related posts. So here goes.

Yesterday evening I put my feet up and settled down to watch a movie on Amazon Prime.  I chose Safe Haven, a beautifully set romantic drama that sees a young wife (bloodied hands and all) fleeing her home town in search of a new start.

The reason I’m writing about it here is that the setting (Southport, North Carolina US) captivated me. We’re just into Autumn here in the UK and everything is beginning to rust and fall through various shades of red and gold.
Southport appeared to be doing the same thing to great effect.

As an artist and aspiring writer it was precisely the sort of location I’d head to for some inspiration. Somewhere to just escape it all for a while.

I often daydream about fleeing the run of the mill and heading out to some place to start again. Watching ‘Katie’ become somebody new and start a new life several hundred miles from home was infectious and extremely appealing.

A good film despite the lousy reviews. But then, make your own decisions, I did and wasn’t disappointed.