Who Invited Them (2022) Is an After Party You Can Skip
Title: Who Invited Them
First Non-Festival Release: September 1, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Duncan Birmingham
Writer: Duncan Birmingham
Runtime: 81 Minutes
Starring: Ryan Hansen, Melissa Tang, Timothy Granaderos, Perry Mattfeld
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
New homeowners Adam (Ryan Hansen) and Margo (Melissa Tang) are excited to welcome their closest friends to a housewarming party. Once the night has ended, the couple are excited to rest and recharge after a busy night. That is until they are greeted by Tom (Timothy Granaderos) and Sasha (Perry Mattfeld), two guests that neither remember inviting. It comes to light that they are neighbors who came by to complain about getting blocked in by other guests but decided against it and enjoy the festivities instead. They turn the misunderstanding into an opportunity to get to know each other, and unfortunately for Adam and Margo, the young couple is not one they want to host.
Flat and predictable, Who Invited Them is a tame home invasion horror that overstays its welcome quickly.
Another entry in the home invasion horror sub-genre, Who Invited Them tries to make use of its scant premise with little results or sense. Its premise relies on two beautiful strangers ingratiating their way into a housewarming party uninvited before convincing their hosts that they want to spend all night with them. The issue is that the true nature of Tom and Sasha is easy to spot. It removes the tension from the film and sucks the life out of the narrative. Sure, the film plays with the idea that they could be genuinely good neighbors, but it never lands.
Fakeness is front in center in this Shudder Original. Even before the party is over, comments are swirling about the true intentions behind Adam and Margo’s get-together. Irritated co-workers and fake friends gossip about the couple’s home, behavior, and overall relationship with each other and their partygoers. While both remain oblivious, Adam is easily the more unaware of the two. This draws great parallels to their future interactions with Tom and Sasha. Clearly, Adam wants to impress people and that is evident in the way that he fails to read the room in nearly every conversation.
Class dynamics and privilege are also skewered in the film. Once the revelations have been shared with all, it feels like a letdown considering the antagonists. Sasha and Tom are used as vessels to excoriate the rich and powerful who choose to put on fronts instead of dealing with issues rationally and with care. Unfortunately, their combined motivation and journey in becoming their present selves seems like a stretch. It’s teased multiple times that there are multiple angles from which the duo could be coming from in their efforts to court Adam and Margo, and with the intersection of wealth it muddles up both the themes and story at once.
Slow, dry, and filled with questionable writing decisions, Who Invited Them is too messy of a film that gets lost in what it is trying to say. Even beyond its general story, little moments play out that serve little purpose other than to fill time to justify their time on screen. Most notably, the entire interaction between the two couples lacks intentionality beyond location. Adam and Margo live in a place where terrible things happened years ago, but their connection to the younger couple is tenuous at best, especially considering their later revealed motivations. One infuriating aspect of Who Invited Them involves an even more unnecessary side story. The audience is subjected to Margo’s friend, Teeny, driving through the hills to squeeze in a shocking ending. Aimless and irritating, it feels more like an excuse to pad the runtime and give credence to the ridiculous twist at the end.
By nature of the plot, it is difficult to tell if the awkwardness onscreen is intentional or not. The normally electric Timothy Granaderos is unconvincing in his smooth-talking portrayal of Tom whereas Ryan Hansen and Melissa Tang lack the chemistry to sell themselves as a couple. The only player who is consistently on the mark is Perry Mattfeld as the mischievous and underhanded Sasha.
Unexceptional, Who Invited Them is a forgettable journey that retreads familiar ground. Neither its half-hearted examination of classism and the horrors of high society nor its hollow script can manage to entice viewers to stick around for the end of the party. Its commitment to under-the-radar humor and its knack for removing all mystery from its core premise makes it an unengaging watch. Throw in generally unconvincing performances and some silly side plots that amount to little in the end, and you get Who Invited Them. If situational comedy or bare bones home invasion horror is your thing, check out Who Invited Them, if not, it might be best to skip this outing.
Overall Score? 4.5/10