Invitation Only is Taiwan’s first stab at the slasher genre, so the question you have to ask yourself is: will they follow western tradition and deliver a formulaic horror movie with psychopaths pissed off with their parents, or will they turn the slasher movie genre on its head, serving up something fresh and exciting? The answer is relatively simple; blood, guts and sex. Guess we’ll be sticking with tried and tested for the duration of the movie then.
Kevin Ko heads into Hostel-like territory, presenting us with extreme violence, inventive torture and gratuitous nudity. Bryant Chang and Jerry Huang lead the cast, along with Ma Kuo Hsien, Vivi Ho, Kao Ying Hsien and Ozawa Maria in her visually appealing mainstream debut. Wade (Bryant Chang) gets on the wrong side of his boss (Jerry Huang) when he shows up late for work. Things don’t get any better either, especially after he walks in on Yang making love to a model (Maria Ozawa) on the backseat of his car.
Yang wants to keep the incident low key so he offers Wade an invitation to an exclusive party for the ultra rich. Posing as Yang's cousin, Wade is rewarded with hot sex and a free sports car. Not a bad nights work I’m sure you’ll agree. Unsurprisingly, it all goes to hell rather quickly and the party-crashers are picked off one by one, in the name of revenge and sadistic entertainment.
Invitation Only is a surprisingly effective little horror movie, which ticks most of the right boxes at most of the right times. It also makes the same mistakes as its rivals, presenting us with a endless stream of bad acting, corny dialogue and dumb victims. These mistakes are rendered obsolete by the extreme bloodshed, unending torture and over exposed fleshy bits. This is a violent movie, make no mistake about it, and the scenes of torture are a struggle to watch at times, where limbs are severed and one scene in particular will have male moviegoers wincing throughout.
The set up is simple enough and it’s not long before the torture begins, which is a shame because character development is sacrificed in the name of degradation. Not that I’m looking for too much character development, you understand, but once the violence kicks in it doesn’t let up until the final credits roll. That’s a whole hour after the initial splattering of blood and body parts. Which might sound great to gore hounds who revel in this kind of thing, but the relentless violence left me numb after a while, and it would have been more effective had the filmmakers indulged their dark desires a little more sparingly. That said, this is a solid if unspectacular slasher debut from Taiwan.
The girls look great, there’s plenty of flesh to chew on and Kevin Ko manages to throw in some memorable moments of torment and titillation. The big reveal came way too early for me, and from there on in it’s a case of cat chases mouse, and mouse fights back when he runs out of holes to hide in. Invitation Only is a worthy addition to the slasher genre and horror fanatics will find plenty to enjoy here. It’s not Oscar worthy, it’s a slasher movie, and all things considered, Taiwan’s first stab at horror movie cliché remains a cut above the rest. AW