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Karyn Kusama on Using Framing to Deliver Tension in ‘The Invitation’

Karyn Kusama’s tense thriller The Invitation is about a man named Will invited to a party at his ex-wife Eden’s home two years after the tragic loss of their son. But as Will’s discomfort grows at the seemingly idyllic new life Eden has made for herself, the audience is left to wonder whether Will is gripped by paranoia or whether there is something more sinister at play.

“I immediately thought a lot about organizing space in very composed frames, and I strove to trap the characters in certain visual arrangements,” Kusama tells Filmmaker Magazine about how she went about creating the film’s tension. “When the story derails into a more active and unpredictable territory, it was interesting to imagine the camera having to ‘wake up’ out of that initial composure and quickly evolve into a more kinetic aesthetic. The themes of claustrophobia and paranoia lent themselves to this approach.  I had a sense that the present-day of the film should be bathed in brown and amber tones, and that the flashbacks should play in more dusky blues and purples.”