HomeFilmArrow Video FrightFest 2022: ‘Who Invited Them’ review

Arrow Video FrightFest 2022: ‘Who Invited Them’ review

Adam (Ryan Hansen) and Margo (Melissa Tang) are keen to show off their plush new home during a housewarming party. Once all of the guests leave, the couple is surprised to find Tom (Timothy Granaderos) and Sasha (Perry Mattfeld), two people they don’t know, still in their home. Explaining that they are neighbours, the couple suggests a nightcap in a bid to get to know Adam and Margo. As the drinks flow and the evening draws on, Adam and Margo begin to suspect that there may be more than meets the eye to their new neighbours.

Writer and director Duncan Birmingham puts his own stamp on the home invasion subgenre with the slow-burning ‘Who Invited Them’. Playing on the fears of the audience and exploring the ‘stranger danger’ fear they likely have. Birmingham contains most of the action within the confines of Adam and Margo’s home. After agreeing to host Tom and Sasha for a nightcap, the couple is divided between their new friends with Sasha needling into Margo’s past and Tom delving into Adam’s marriage.

As the conversations progress, it brings up unspoken conflict that is hiding just below the surface of Adam and Margo’s marriage. Sasha wills Margo to be the person she feels she can’t be with Adam while Tom opens up Adam’s eyes to a marriage that exists outside of convention. Adam and Margo’s reaction to their own revelations adds to the tension and builds to a scene that starts off playful enough but teeters very close to shocking. Due to being distracted by one another, the couple doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to Tom and Sasha, who appear to have no intention to leave their home.

The first half of the film is fantastic. It sets the story up nicely, allows the characters to breathe a little and eases the audience in. It’s hard to guess where the film is going but if you do spot the clues, the final act isn’t going to be as much of a surprise as it wants to be. Once the film starts to reveal its hand, the story moves too quickly and it feels like a mad rush to the credits, which is a real shame for a film that so carefully sets up its premise.

The central four actors are truly fantastic to watch. It’s nice to see Ryan Hansen step away from the more comedic work he’s done to put in a truly strong dramatic performance. He’s matched by Melissa Tang as Margo, who allows her character to let loose in a way you imagine she hasn’t in a long time. The standouts though are Perry Mattfeld and Timothy Granaderos. Both are known for their work in teen series – ‘In The Dark’ and ’13 Reasons Why’ respectively – and together in this film, they are dynamite. Mattfeld combines girlish sexuality with determination while Granaderos delivers confident charisma in spades.

‘Who Invited Them’ is a compelling slow-burn thriller and it’s anchored by strong performances. For me, I wish the final act had packed a bigger punch as the film builds up nicely, only to leave the audience feeling a little deflated. At just under 80 minutes in length, the film would have benefitted from being fleshed out further and if Birmingham had really nailed the ending, this film had the potential to be a cult classic.

Cast: Ryan Hansen, Perry Matfeld, Timothy Granaderos, Melissa Tang, Tipper Newton Director: Duncan Birmingham Writer: Duncan Birmingham Certificate: 18 Duration: 77 mins Released by: Shudder

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Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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