Taylor Swift released her Blank Space music video on Monday and it is quite simply crazed genius. Funny, tongue in cheek, outlandish, sly, and bloody brilliant. Even without watching the video just listening to the lyrics is enough to place this particular song as one of her cleverest and most entertaining of 2014. “I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream; Screaming, crying, perfect storm.” Sounds like many an exe known by many a man.
Directed by Kevin Ko and billed as Taiwan‘s first ever slasher horror film, Invitation Only is a good solid step into the world of slasher horror; it even has a heavy metal song playing over the closing credits.
The film received mixed reviews upon its release this may be down to the fact that (like most Asian films) it has two different versions; a Taiwanese cut and a Hong Kong cut. It is Kevin Ko’s debut film. Shot in High Definition and on a shoe string budget he manages to make quite a solid little film.
A young limo driver gets called in on his day off to drive an important man around the city. The unfortunate driver is Wade Chen (Bryant Chang) and his passenger is Mr Yang (Jerry Huang) the CEO of a huge construction company in the country. Wade bumps into glamorous model Dana (Maria Ozawa) who he later finds in the back of his limo in mid-coital position with Mr Yang.
Yang gets out of the car and tells Chen that he doesn’t need him for the rest of the day. The next day Yang gives Chen an invitation to a fancy party that he says he cannot attend. He instructs Chen to tell people there that his is Yang’s cousin and that his (Yang’s) manager will provide Chen with clothing and money for the party.
Chen accepts and he reads the back of the invitation which says, ‘What is your wildest dream?’
When he goes to the party he meets a girl named Hitomi (Julianne Chu) and they seem to hit it off. A man named Warren (Kristian Brodie) talks to the party members and explains that this is an annual event. He goes on to explain that these are set up to introduce new members to this exclusive club; a club that allows its members to realize their wildest dreams.
Warren then calls out to the five new members that have been invited that night: Chen, Hitomi, Legislator Jen, Holly, and Richard Kao. The five new members take a bow and they are then led off to another section of the party to receive their dream wish.
Chen asks for a fantastic sports car and he is perplexed when he finds that Hitomi asked for a childhood teddy bear as her wildest dream. As Richard Kao is led off to get his dream (the piano that Mozart composed his great music on) the other see a film about them. It turns out that none of them are who they appear to be. They have all claimed to be someone else.
They realize that the party has been some sort of ruse to get them there and they decide to leave. Unfortunately they have been locked in and they must find a way out. As the group attempt to escape, they start getting picked off one by one.
Considering that the party takes place in a warehouse the setting of the film is nothing to write home about; some critics complained about the setting. But, if you consider the reason for the party and what is really going on there, it makes perfect sense. Like an illegal rave, if you are going to be killing off some of your guests, you don’t want your party being held at a regular venue.
Critics called Invitation Only a journey into torture porn and to a degree they are right (depending of which version of the film you see) but as this is a Taiwanese film it is not too overpowering. Tai’ films are as a rule cautious affairs, their standard horror films have only begun to pick up pace and the same is true for this film.
They have hit all the right notes for this to be a good standard “slasher” film. The teaser at the beginning of the film; the set up of the party and its surprise twist; the ambiguous ending and the hard rock score for the closing credits all do a fine job in establishing the films bona fides.
As a film debut Kevin Ko impresses and I hope to see further films from this director. He shows a good eye for detail and even though some of the prosthetics for the film were a little cheap looking, he framing of the torture scenes helped to overcome this minor setback.
The film is billed as the first Tai’ slasher and as far as I know it is the first film to feature female nudity and a sex scene in the film. The Taiwanese film world has always been a bit prudish about female actresses and their roles in film. They aren’t too pleased to have Tai’ actresses kiss too much or show too much. So it was a surprise to see one of the women “bare all” in one of the scenes.
A great film to watch for the horror fan and one that will have the slasher fan nodding and smiling as they remember the early slasher films of the 70’s and 80’s.
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