The consequences of being overly concerned with what other people think can be severe. Who Invited Them from Shudder is a film that does just this. In an effort to wow your peers and superiors at work, you may be tempted to spend above your means on a lavish mansion. By pretending to be someone other than who you really are (and alienating those people in the process), you risk losing the support of your friends and colleagues. And if you’re so worried about offending people to heed your own instincts, you may leave yourself open to harm. Adam (Ryan Hansen) and Margo (Melissa Tang) do all of the above in Who Invited Them, the first motion picture from writer-director Duncan Birmingham. They are forced to discover that caring too much about what other people think can have catastrophic results.
Even though Margo isn’t quite ready for a housewarming celebration, she understands the significance of Adam throwing one for the sake of his career. Even if his supervisor thinks it’s gross, he should seize this chance to curry favor with her. He can also flaunt his impressive record collection. She makes an effort to socialize and have a nice time, but towards the end of the evening, when everyone else has left save for a younger couple, she and Adam realize that they don’t genuinely know each other. They had both initially assumed the other was a buddy. Showing them the door as politely as possible, they confront the matter head on, only to be saved by a seemingly reasonable explanation. They apologize to each other and decide to wind down the night by having a few drinks together. This may seem like a good idea at the time, but it might end up being a terrible one.
While chilling out after the party, Adam and Margo talk about a “very slick pair” who attracted their eyes for several reasons. Tom (Timothy Granaderos) and Sasha (Perry Mattfeld) are two uninvited guests who neither them welcomed or knows; they find out to their utter shock that the pair is still in the home after snorting coke in the toilet. In spite of the unusual circumstances, Adam manages to convince a hesitant Margo that the four of them ought to participate in an afterparty after discovering that the couple are their new next-door neighbors and that Tom is well-established in the LA power elite. As the night progresses, it is unclear whether Tom and Sasha are attempting to make sport of their neighbors and friends, wanting to swing with them, or have more nefarious motives; however, as they expertly push Adam and Margo’s buttons and pit them against one another, they are also putting them through a twisted kind of marriage counseling, where altercations are had and angry truths are revealed. As Adam and Margo spend the night together reflecting on their love and what it has given them thus far, they will grow closer to one another.
Who Invited Them is Fast-paced and amusing, but ultimately draining, Who Invited Them is like having a fantastic time at a party only to be disappointed that it has to stop. Thanks in large part to Timothy Granaderos and Perry Mattfeld’s magnetic performances, Tom and Sasha come off as more menacing than they actually are, and yet they still manage to get Adam and Margo to open up to them. Although Adam doesn’t go into detail, he does warn Tom that the house they acquired has a dark history that involves a murder-suicide. Adam, however, would rather that Margo not learn the house’s history, so he has Tom pledge not to tell her. Adam and Margo, played by Ryan Hansen and Melissa Tang, are a modest couple who begin to wonder if Tom and Sasha are as perfect as they seem. Tom and Sasha (Granaderos and Mattfeld, with great comedic timing and provocative performances, respectively) are the show-stopping stars, despite Adam and Margo’s mounting unease.
Who Invited Them is a deceptively well-written film that viewers may mistake for something they’ve seen before; yet, once a specific discourse concerning the home begins, horror lovers should sound the alert. The road itself is more important than the final goal in a narrative like this.
One of my complaints about the movie is that it gives too much away. The final act of the film is overly predictable because of an earlier scene in which Adam (Ryan Hansen) gives backstory about the residence. Even though that’s where the suspense is most, I found the “twist” to be unsatisfying because it was so transparent.
At the end the movie was still enjoyable and I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.
You can watch Who Invited Them on Shudder right now.
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