Shudder ’s Who Invited Them is a gleefully sinister horror comedy that outshines its narrative predictability with an engaging script and cast.
Being in the comfort of your own home is a feeling that is completely unmatched. Whether you live in a giant mansion or a tiny apartment, being in a place that you can confidently call your own brings a feeling of protection that nothing else can ever really compare to. As our homes became a safe haven over the years, the idea of welcoming strangers inside could make one immensely anxious as you constantly deal with the thoughts in the back of your head of what intentions these people may hold, no matter how nice they may seem. Shudder’s Who Invited Them is a film that tackles these very thoughts in order to twist them into an entertaining and engaging horror comedy that explores what happens when you let that person stay in your home for just a while longer.
The film follows Adam (Ryan Hansen) and Margo (Melissa Tang) who have recently moved into a new house. One night during a housewarming party, a pair of strangers named Tom (Timothy Granaderos) and Sasha (Perry Mattfeld) welcome themselves into the lives of Adam and Margo as a wealthy couple who live right next door. As Tom and Sasha stay for one nightcap which quickly turns into another, Adam and Margo begin to suspect that there may be more to this mysterious couple than meets the eye.
Despite horror taking priority in terms of the film’s genre which leads it down outlandish avenues, there’s a certain believability to the layers of mundanity in the characters of Who Invited Them that makes the film shine in the sea of home invasion movies we see all too often. The characters of Adam and Margo, despite appearing as a normal couple, hold deep insecurities that Tom and Sasha are able to grab onto almost immediately. Adam struggles with trying to impress his workmates and boss while Margo holds regrets about sacrificing her more artistic side to become a mother. Tom and Sasha are presented as characters who have it all yet despite their higher status, come across as down-to-earth and quickly sink their hooks into Adam and Margo in increasingly sinister and irrational ways, which is when Who Invited Them really begins to have fun with its own premise.
From the outset, Who Invited Them presents itself as a horror comedy that may not make you laugh out loud but instead operates on this almost gleefully sadistic level, as it takes each of its four main cast members down increasingly more deranged paths while still keeping itself engaged within the four walls of its own house. What the film may lack in lavish special effects or some truly unique cinematography, it makes up for by being an engaging character piece that operates like a theatre play of sorts as we spend as much time as possible with the two couples and see what makes them tick in each passing moment.
When the film focuses on the central premise, it shines as a really fun and engaging horror comedy. However, Who Invited Them does let itself down a tad when it takes itself outside of its central setting, with a small subplot involving the child of Adam and Margo that by the end feels underdeveloped and unnecessary. At 80 minutes, no time is wasted for the plot to get moving and although it does mostly fall down a predictable path that shows itself a little early, the journey it takes to reach its end point is incredibly fun and makes these issues feel more like nitpicks than major issues that bring the film crashing down.
Who Invited Them is a prime example of what makes the original side of Shudder ’s programming so unique in the streaming landscape. Despite being made with as little money as possible and not featuring large actors, it contains the right ingredients as to what makes this kind of independent horror work so well compared to the larger fare that other streaming services may acquire. The film may not contain anything particularly mind blowing but this necessarily a bad thing. Instead, Who Invited Them is a sturdy and simplistic title in all the right ways as it allows itself to sink into its home invasion premise to offer thrills and dark humour that keeps everything moving until those final credits begin to roll.
Who Invited Them premiered at FrightFest on August 26, 2022, and will be released on Shudder in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, September 1.