In Who Invited Them, Adam and Margot throw a housewarming party for their friends and coworkers to celebrate and take in their fancy new home in “the hills”. After the party, a few guests linger a bit too long, and introduce themselves as neighbors. Adam and Margot don’t recognize them, but they go with it, until they eventually realize the guests might not be who they said they are.
The premise of Who Invited Them brings to mind the plots of other horror films- The Invitation (2015), The Overnight (2015), Funny Games (2007). The theme of the uninvited guest, or the guest not being who they say they are, is a fairly common one, and a fun twist on the home invasion sub-genre.
When Adam (Ryan Hansen) gives a little speech at their housewarming party — including his very own hashtag for the party — he glances over and sees two well-dressed people he doesn’t recognize, but assumes they must be friends of Margot’s. It seems like none of Adam and Margot’s (Melissa Tang) friends are actually enjoying themselves. It’s a perfectly nice party, but they think that Adam’s a bit of a smug prick for showing off his super fancy new house. Once all their friends have left, they eventually run into the mystery guests, who introduce themselves as Tom and Sasha — and the night will progress much further before things start to go awry.
Tom and Sasha (Perry Mattfeld) explain that they’re the neighbors, and right away, Tom (Timothy Granaderos) starts buttering Adam up. Adam’s over-joyed to have finally made a friend who seems to appreciate his taste in music, but Margot’s not thrilled that he’s invited them to stay for a nightcap.
It’s not too far into Who Invited Them that our main cast of four is dancing to The Glass and establishing themselves firmly as a bunch of rich millennial try-hards. Margot’s a lot less bougie than the other 3, with a job managing a thrift shop and modest aspirations compared to her husband’s, but she still has a good handful of cringe-inducing moments. It’s hard to care about any of these characters, or what will happen to them.
Who Invited Them takes its time building up to any moments of horror or suspense. As we get to know the characters, the camera will occasionally focus in on a knife to remind us that this movie isn’t just a comedy. Still, though, writer/director Duncan Birmingham makes us wait until about halfway through the film to give us anything suspenseful at all.
Who Invited Them mostly feels like a comedy about some really obnoxious people. The most suspenseful thing happening by the film’s halfway point seems to be “will they or won’t they start swinging with the neighbors?”. There’s also a side-story happening with another one of Margot and Adam’s friends that doesn’t have too much to do with the rest of the plot until the side story conveniently merges with the main story (and then proceeds to fizzle out).
While things are a little weird with Tom and Sasha, when Adam and Margot finally decide to go to bed and ask their friends to leave, things start to get really weird. It finally becomes obvious to Adam and Margot just how pushy and intrusive Tom and Sasha are.
Who Invited Them is certainly guilty of uneven pacing. Once things escalate from weird to dangerous, it gets a little bit more fun — but again, it’s hard to care about these characters, when they’re all kind of terrible in their own way.
Who Invited Them is entertaining and funny, but it doesn’t do enough to set itself apart from other home invasion thrillers. The slow build-up will lose some audiences before things even really get going; you can’t really call this film a slow-burn, because the ending is pretty predictable. The home’s “dark history” is mentioned more than a few times, and the truth of the tale ends up exactly as you’d expect. If you’re in the mood for something on the more lighthearted end of horror, Who Invited Them will suit you fine.
Who Invited Them comes to Shudder on September 1, 2022.
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