Borrowing heavily from the Saw franchise comes the grisly Asian horror, Invitation Only.
When a young driver called Wade accepts his boss’s invitation to an exclusive club night, he jumps at the chance. Four other people are also mingling with the super rich and beautiful, but none are who or what they appear to be. When one of the guests is murdered, the night turns into a killing game in which the guests are hunted down and killed in gruesome ways.
Like Saw, the deaths in Inviation Only are inventive and gruesome. Unlike Saw, they are not just for the amusement of the victim’s masked attacker, but are part of a voyeuristic event put on by a rich boy for his club’s wealthy members.
At the helm of what’s been billed as Taiwan’s first slasher movie, director Kevin Ko pulls out all the stops to make this happen. Blood, gore, and hot Asian babes are thrown at you with more than a cursory nod to the master of the genre, Dario Argento.
While the torture scenes provide the necessary shocks (a wannabe politician gets his genitals fried; a gold digger gets an eye-wincing makeover), what makes Invitation Only different from the usual American fare is the story. The victims are all unmasked as fakes and their grisly fates are presented here as a kind of gladiatorial sport orchestrated by the rich boy, who wants to teach the ‘little people’ a lesson. But like the horrid huge cockroaches lurking in the shadows, the little people can be hard to kill. And, in the case of our driver Wade, it’s just a matter of time before he gets his chance to fight back.
Looking way more expensive than its modest budget, Invitation Only is no cult in the making, but it’s a solid attempt at the torture porn genre (which must be on the wane by now) and certainly ripe for a Hollywood remake.