The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - WHO INVITED THEM | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - WHO INVITED THEM

who invited them review
housewarming party turns sinister when the hosts grow suspicious of the young couple claiming to be their neighbours.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Duncan Birmingham

Starring: Ryan Hansen, Melissa Tang, Timothy Granaderos, Perry Mattfeld

who invited them poster

Writer/director Duncan Birmingham's feature debut Who Invited Them is a grisly spin on the classic comedy trope of a conservative couple examining their relationship when they find themselves in the presence of a liberal couple, a sort of Bob & Carol & Ted & Malice. You have to wait a considerably long time for the grisliness to arrive though, so for the most part it's essentially another entry in this comic sub-genre.

who invited them review

The conservative couple are Adam (Ryan Hansen) and Margo (Melissa Tang). They've just moved into a plush home in the Hollywood hills. Adam got the house for a steal, its price knocked down for a disturbing reason he has kept secret from his wife, who isn't entirely happy about the move. While Adam throws a housewarming populated by guests mocking his social aspirations behind his back, Margot spends most of the evening hiding from his friends and colleagues in the kitchen.

Believing the guests have all left, Adam and Margot are shocked to find a young couple – Tom (Timothy Granaderos) and Sasha (Perry Mattfeld) – emerging from their bathroom. Tom and Sasha are unknown to either Adam or Margot but they claim to be their neighbours. Initially won over by their free-wheeling charisma, Adam and Margot allow the younger couple to stay for a nightcap.

who invited them review

The rest of the movie plays out in something close to real time, with the boys separating from the girls. While Sasha is telling Margot to be more assertive in her relationship, Adam is receiving the very same instructions from Tom. It becomes apparent that Tom and Sasha are enjoying shit-stirring, but as the night goes on we begin to wonder if their intentions might be more malevolent than simply creating friction in their neighbours' marriage.

While Tom and Sasha are stock villains, Adam and Margot are a little more complex. As the drink flows and the night wears on, we learn that they aren't exactly fully happy in their marriage, but their complaints aren't particularly dramatic but rather relatably grounded. They both feel like they're married to someone who doesn't really understand their ambitions and they both feel unrewarded for the compromises they've made. If we initially laugh at Adam for his Basil Fawlty-esque snobby aspirations, by the end of the film we've developed a degree of sympathy for a man who is simply desperate to be taken seriously and respected by his peers. We also get an insight into the sacrifices Margot has made for marriage and motherhood as Sasha preys on any resentment she might have festering away in her psyche.

who invited them review

99% of viewers will figure out early on where this is all headed, so it's a little odd how long it takes for Birmingham to finally lay his horror cards on the comedy table. The movie's final act is so short that it all feels underwhelming, and an ambiguous ending doesn't quite have the satisfying impact a more generic climax might have given us. A subplot involving a friend of Adam and Margot who is babysitting their young son ultimately leads to a pointless resolution that adds nothing to the narrative. Similarly, hints at a supernatural element are never followed up.

As a four-handed comedy of manners, Who Invited Them is just about engaging enough thanks to the central performances, but horror fans may find its reluctance to fully embrace the genre somewhat frustrating.

Who Invited Them
 is on Shudder from September 1st.

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