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Who Invited Them

Written and Directed by Duncan Birmingham
A Shudder Original

Married couple Adam and Margo celebrate the purchase of their new upmarket home by inviting friends and colleagues over for a housewarming party. When they discover a smartly-dressed couple, who neither have invited to their party, they become suspicious until they’re revealed to be their neighbours. As the drinks start to flow and tongues begin to loosen, Adam and Margo discover some home truths about themselves and their new neighbours, Tom and Sasha, but are they really who they say they are?

Horror thriller WHO INVITED THEM from writer and director Duncan Birmingham flips the idea of home invasion thriller on its head with its slick couple who spell trouble right from the very start without ever needing to break in. Standing out like a sore thumb and clearly enjoying snooping around Adam and Margo’s home, Tom and Sasha seem to have very little interest in sampling the nibbles and taking advantage of the free booze, though they do. No. They have something else in mind. But what exactly do they have in store for our party hosts, Adam and Margo?

When it comes to protagonists, Adam and Margo aren’t the most likeable couple. Husband Adam seems to be a bit egotistical, putting his own wants and needs over that of his wife and young son. Margo seems to just go along with it but it’s clear that she hates being put into the role of housewife and mother, and how she is expected to do everything her ‘successful’ husband asks of her. Even at the party, which Adam has decided to throw in order to show off and brag about their new crib, Margo is distant and dissatisfied, exposing the cracks in their relationship. After the party, they settle down to discuss the neighbourhood with their new ‘friends’, neighbours Tom and Sasha, and it doesn’t take much to find an opening for the latter couple to exploit.

It’s pretty obvious that Tom and Sasha are not who they seem when we meet them and as soon as the house’s history is discussed, the answer to their identity is right in front of our face. However, Adam and Margo are blissfully unaware of this fact which flips the film into a “how long before they realise” scenario as the uncomfortable manipulation and gaslighting begins.

In the first half of WHO INVITED THEM, it feels as though the movie is channelling elements of Michael Heneke’s Funny Games but that soon dissipates as it embraces more of a dark comedic approach in the latter half. Whilst the characters of Tom and Sasha relish their villainous roles, it’s the flip-flopping personalities of Adam and Margo which doesn’t sit well. As the cracks in their relationship are exposed and pulled apart, with Tom and Sasha encouraging them to unleash vitriol on each other, you expect this nastiness to snowball, but it doesn’t. One minute Adam and Margo are tearing into each other, and the next they’re all lovey dovey, as though their coke and booze-fuelled attacks on one another never even happened. I don’t know about you, but every argument I’ve witnessed or been involved in doesn’t smooth over in an instant. Grudges and grievances are usually left to stew well into the night…

WHO INVITED THEM displays some intense moments but ultimately it’s a threatening idea that doesn’t seem to capitalise too much or take the story to the depths it could, instead opting for a lighter execution. It’s as though the horse is pulled up at the last moment, just as it’s ready to make the jump. There’s certain elements that work in the movie, which is director Duncan Birmingham’s first feature film, but I wish the story would have stuck to a more depraved outcome to really send chills down the spine.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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About Bat 4345 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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