By Invitation Only 2023 Movie Review
Kevin Ko has found success with his film Incantation recently on Netflix. So why not release a nastier film from his earlier catalogue. Stephen Biro of Unearthed Films has done just that. Invitation Only falls somewhere in the realm of slasher film and torture porn.
Think films like Hostel or The Purge where rich douchebags who have everything are still bored. They can only get their rocks off by torturing and killing blue collar working folks for pleasure. Invitation Only fits this premise. We get a group of people invited to a private party supposedly to be honoured. They eventually find out they are to be put on a stage, tortured, and killed for the amusement of the elite party goers.
Among the would-be victims is Wade played by Ray Chang (Eternal Summer). Wade is an assistant to President Yang played by Jerry Chih-Wei Huang (49 Days). On his day off Wade is contacted to drive Yang to a specific function if he wants to keep his job. Reluctantly Wade accepts. The location is very elaborate yet inconspicuous and tucked away.
Once Wade arrives, he meets other guests including Hitomi played by Julianne Chu (100 days) whom he develops good rapport with. He also meets a pianist named Richard played by Ying-Hsuan Kao (Incantation), politician Lin played by Joseph MA (Doomsday Reverse), and Holly played by Vivi Ho. All five are guests of honour and have been glamorized to be something they are not.
Wade himself is said to be related to President Yang and is given top tier treatment. This includes a rendezvous with Yang’s own private mistress Dana played by the stunning adult actress Maria Ozawa (Erotibot). Ozawa unfortunately only has a brief role but not before she has a chance to disrobe. The host of the party is Warren played by Kristian Brodie, a very suave yet sinister character working for Yang.
All five illustrious guests are led into a room where a glimpse of their true ugly selves are shown on a TV screen. Then they are systematically stalked and killed (some before the audience as they clap and cheer). This scenario has been done to death over-and-over again. Rich debutantes living out fantasies of murder and killing for enjoyment. The illuminati or even as far as the Stone Cutters in The Simpsons; we are fascinated by the idea or notion there are sects or secret societies of the wealthy carrying out such activities in the real world.
Invitation Only is not ground-breaking. It has some decent gore but nothing too over-the-top. One of the most memorable sequences has a guy getting jumper cables via car battery hooked up to his junk. The most harrowing scene has Wade cutting apart his own hand to get out of a set of handcuffs. The scene where Warren bites the dust is pretty brutal too. He gets his head pulverized into a gooey pulp.
The latter half sinks into a mundane hide and go kill set up which gets old and tiresome. The movie suffers from pacing issues which had my attention wandering off. The characters are all mediocre and not memorable. No one stands out, not even Wade. I do root for him because I want him to smash those rich cunts but otherwise it could be any actor in the role. Even the main bad guy Yang is boring.
Invitation Only is shot well, with a decent production, and good performances from the cast. It never wowed me, and it treaded on well-worn territory without offering much except some well-done gore. For some this will no doubt suffice and if so all the power to those individuals. Overall, a watchable yet predictable offering.